AbstractHydrophilic-interaction chromatography (HILIC) of intact proteins offers high-resolution separations of glycoforms of glycoproteins differing in the number of (neutral) glycans. However, to obtain efficient separations it is essential that the positively charged sites of the proteins are shielded by acidic (negative) ion-pair reagents (IPRs), so as to enhance the contribution of the hydroxyl groups of the (neutral) sugars in the glycoprotein. Here, we studied the influence of various IPRs that differ in physico-chemical properties, such as hydrophobicity and acidity, on the capillary-scale HILIC separation of intact (glyco)proteins. We evaluated the use of fluoroacetic acid (MFA), difluoroacetic acid (DFA), trifluoroacetic acid (TFA), and heptafluorobutyric acid (HFBA) as diluents for sample preparation, as solvents for sample loading on a reversed-phase trap prior to the HILIC separation, and as mobile-phase components for HILIC and HILIC-MS. To reduce the contribution of ion-exchange interaction with the (silica-based) stationary phase, we used an acrylamide-based monolithic column. We studied the influence of the different IPRs on each step of the separation of a mixture of proteins of different size and hydrophilicity and on the separation of the five glycoforms of ribonuclease B. The content of IPR in the sample was shown not to affect the separation and the MS detection. However, a low content of TFA and DFA in the mobile phase is favourable, as it reduces adduct formation and leads to a high signal intensity. The results of this study are successfully demonstrated by the analysis of horseradish peroxidase (HRP), as an example of a complex glycoprotein.
Published: January 13, 2023