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Fields & Applications COVID-19

Grappling with Glycoproteins

Heavy glycosylation of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein may play a role in immune evasion – partly owing to the presence of host glycan molecules. Thus, quick, simple and reliable methods to screen these glycans are needed. And that’s exactly what Rod Chalk and colleagues set out to do…

“We analyzed short spike glycopeptides using LC-ToF-MS to ascertain both structural and positional information,” says Rod. “LC-ToF has the advantage of generating signals from any ionizable species.” The team identified 140 glycopeptides belonging to 13 glycoprotein sites, with a further six sites unassigned. Accurate mass and retention times were also determined for a further 306 glycopeptides. “Characterization of the spike protein is an essential contribution to our community’s multi-pronged approach to fighting the pandemic,” Rod explains.

Next up: taking the studies from duplicate to triplicate and extending the number of glycans detected.


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  1. R Chalk et al., [This article is a preprint and has not yet been peer-reviewed] (2020). DOI: 10.1101/2020.07.24.217562
About the Author
Matt Hallam

I've always wanted a job that fosters creativity - even when I worked on the assembly line in a fish factory. Outside work, I satisfy this need by writing questionable fiction. The venture into science writing was an unexpected departure from this fiction, but I'm truly grateful for the opportunity to combine my creative side with my scientific mind as Editor of The Analytical Scientist.

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