Pyrene Tags for the Detection of Carbohydrates by Label-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionisation Mass Spectrometry**

Jacob R. Hauser, Edmund T. Bergström, Alexander N. Kulak, Stuart L. Warriner, Jane Thomas-Oates, Robin S. Bon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation mass spectrometry (MALDI-MS) is widely used for the analysis of biomolecules. Label-assisted laser desorption/ionisation mass spectrometry (LALDI-MS) is a matrix-free variant of MALDI-MS, in which only analytes covalently attached to a laser desorption/ionisation (LDI) enhancer are detected. LALDI-MS has shown promise in overcoming the limitations of MALDI-MS in terms of sample preparation and MS analysis. In this work, we have developed a series of pyrene-based LDI reagents (LALDI tags) that can be used for labelling and LALDI-MS analysis of reducing carbohydrates from complex (biological) samples without the need for additional chemical derivatisation or purification. We have systematically explored the suitability of four pyrene-based LDI enhancers and three aldehyde-reactive handles, optimised sample preparation, and demonstrated the use of LALDI tags for the detection of lactose. We have also exemplified the potential of LALDI tags for labelling carbohydrates in biological samples by direct detection of lactose in cow's milk. These results demonstrate that LALDI-MS is a promising technique for the analysis of reducing carbohydrates in biological samples, and pave the way for the development of LALDI-MS for glycomics and diagnostics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1430-1439
Issue number8
Early online date4 Jan 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a University of Leeds PhD studentship to J.R.H., and an EPSRC Core Capability Grant (EP/K039202/1). The FTMS analyses were carried out at the University of York Centre of Excellence in Mass Spectrometry, which was created thanks to a major capital investment through Science City York, supported by Yorkshire Forward with funds from the Northern Way Initiative, and subsequent support from EPSRC (EP/K039660/1; EP/M028127/1). We thank Bruker Daltonics for the donation of the ground steel MALDI target plate used for scanning electron microscopy analysis, and Matthew Broadbent for cutting the plate to size.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors. ChemBioChem published by Wiley-VCH GmbH

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • carbohydrates
  • ionisation enhancers
  • mass spectrometry
  • pyrenes

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