Mehra, R., et al. (2014). “Novel high-molecular weight fucosylated milk oligosaccharides identified in dairy streams.” PLoS One 9(5): e96040.
Oligosaccharides are the third largest component in human milk. This abundance is remarkable because oligosaccharides are not digestible by the newborn, and yet they have been conserved and amplified during evolution. In addition to encouraging the growth of a protective microbiota dominated by bifidobacteria, oligosaccharides have anti-infective activity, preventing pathogens from binding to intestinal cells. Although it would be advantageous adding these valuable molecules to infant milk formula, the technologies to reproduce the variety and complexity of human milk oligosaccharides by enzymatic/organic synthesis are not yet mature. Consequently, there is an enormous interest in alternative sources of these valuable oligosaccharides. Recent research has demonstrated that bovine milk and whey permeate also contain oligosaccharides. Thus, a thorough characterization of oligosaccharides in bovine dairy streams is an important step towards fully assessing their specific functionalities. In this study, bovine milk oligosaccharides (BMOs) were concentrated by membrane filtration from a readily available dairy stream called “mother liquor”, and analyzed by high accuracy MALDI FT-ICR mass spectrometry. The combination of HPLC and accurate mass spectrometry allowed the identification of ideal processing conditions leading to the production of Kg amount of BMO enriched powders. Among the BMOs identified, 18 have high-molecular weight and corresponded in size to the most abundant oligosaccharides present in human milk. Notably 6 oligosaccharides contained fucose, a sugar monomer that is highly abundant in human milk, but is rarely observed in bovine milk. This work shows that dairy streams represent a potential source of complex milk oligosaccharides for commercial development of unique dairy ingredients in functional foods that reproduce the benefits of human milk.

Ozcan, S., et al. (2014). “Glycosylated proteins preserved over millennia- N-glycan analysis of Tyrolean Iceman, Scythian Princess and Warrior.” Sci Rep 4: 4963.
An improved understanding of glycosylation will provide new insights into many biological processes. In the analysis of oligosaccharides from biological samples, a strict regime is typically followed to ensure sample integrity. However, the fate of glycans that have been exposed to environmental conditions over millennia has not yet been investigated. This is also true for understanding the evolution of the glycosylation machinery in humans as well as in any other biological systems. In this study, we examined the glycosylation of tissue samples derived from four mummies which have been naturally preserved: – the 5,300 year old “Iceman called Oetzi”, found in the Tyrolean Alps; the 2,400 year old “Scythian warrior” and “Scythian Princess”, found in the Altai Mountains; and a 4 year old apartment mummy, found in Vienna/Austria. The number of N-glycans that were identified varied both with the age and the preservation status of the mummies. More glycan structures were discovered in the contemporary sample, as expected, however it is significant that glycan still exists in the ancient tissue samples. This discovery clearly shows that glycans persist for thousands of years, and these samples provide a vital insight into ancient glycosylation, offering us a window into the distant past.

Smilowitz, J. T., et al. (2013). “Breast Milk Oligosaccharides- Structure-Function Relationships in the Neonate.” Annu Rev Nutr.
In addition to providing complete postnatal nutrition, breast milk is a complex biofluid that delivers bioactive components for the growth and development of the intestinal and immune systems. Lactation is a unique opportunity to understand the role of diet in shaping the intestinal environment including the infant microbiome. Of considerable interest is the diversity and abundance of milk glycans that are energetically costly for the mammary gland to produce yet indigestible by infants. Milk glycans comprise free oligosaccharides, glycoproteins, glycopeptides, and glycolipids. Emerging technological advances are enabling more comprehensive, sensitive, and rapid analyses of these different classes of milk glycans. Understanding the impact of inter- and intraindividual glycan diversity on function is an important step toward interventions aimed at improving health and preventing disease. This review discusses the state of technology for glycan analysis and how specific structure-function knowledge is enhancing our understanding of early nutrition in the neonate. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Nutrition Volume 34 is July 17, 2014. Please see for revised estimates.

Song, T., et al. (2014). “In-Depth Method for the Characterization of Glycosylation in Manufactured Recombinant Monoclonal Antibody Drugs.” Anal Chem.
The glycosylation in recombinant monoclonal antibody (rMab) drugs is a major concern in the biopharmaceutical industry as it impacts the drugs’ many attributes. Characterization is important but complicated by the intricate structures, microheterogeneity, and the limitations of current tools for structural analysis. In this study, we developed a liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) N-glycan library based on eight commercial rMab drugs. A library of over 70 structures was developed for the rapid characterization of rMab. N-Glycans were separated on a porous graphitized carbon (PGC) column incorporated on a chip and then analyzed by an electrospray ionization hybrid quadrupole time-of-flight (ESI-Q-TOF) MS. The retention time and accurate mass for each N-glycan were recorded in the library. The complete structures were obtained through exoglycosidase sequencing. The results showed that most of the N-glycans between different antibodies are nearly the same with different abundances. The utility of this library enables one to identify structures in a rapid manner by matching LC retention times and accurate masses.