FabRICATOR® in capillary zone electrophoresis-native mass spectrometry

June 19, 2019 | References |

The use of capillary electrophoresis for the analysis of therapeutic antibodies and other biopharmaceuticals is growing in popularity. A new article by researchers from CNRS in France showed how capillary zone electrophoresis-native mass spectrometry could be used for the quality control of intact therapeutic monoclonal antibodies. The authors show for the first time the use of a triple layer coated (PB-DS-PB) capillary with mAbs, which helps prevent mAbs adsorption. The intact therapeutic mAb, Infliximab, was analyzed under non-denaturing conditions to retain conformational heterogeneity and avoid denaturation. A middle up approach using FabRICATOR digestion was used to characterize dimer association detected in the stressed mAbs preparation. Digestion below the hinge region of the mAb produced F(ab’)2 and Fc/2 fragments which was subsequently analysed by capillary zone electrophoresis-native mass spectrometry. Using this approach the authors were able to see nature of the dimer association while maintaining the non-covalent interactions of the Fc/2 fragments.




For more information on FabRICATOR please visit the following pages:

The full text paper is available online:
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The Digested Guide to ASMS 2019

Many of Genovis’ customers have submitted abstracts for ASMS 2019 in Atlanta, in which the SmartEnzymes have been used. Below is a digested guide to these abstracts so that you can plan your days at ASMS.

To read the full poster abstracts, visit the Online Planner for ASMS, and paste the abstract titel in the search field.


Sunday, June 2

New Enzymatic Workflows for Analysis of O-Glycosylated Biopharmaceuticals

Andreas Nägeli

Thermo Fisher Scientific User Meeting

Pharma/BioPharma Breakout Session 9:30 AM – 12.15 PM

Marquis Ballroom C


Monday, June 3

Improved middle-down characterization of antibodies using multiple ion activation techniques and Proton Transfer Reaction on a modified Orbitrap mass spectrometer 

Romain Huguet

MP 676, Poster Session 10.30 AM – 2.30 PM

FabRICATOR® and GingisKHAN®


Direct Determination of Antibody Chain Pairing by Top-Down Mass Spectrometry using Electron Capture Dissociation and Ultraviolet Photodissociation 

Jared Shaw

Room B302-305, Oral Presentation 3.50 PM – 4.10 PM

FabRICATOR® and GingisKHAN®


Unraveling a complex immunoprotein profile in multiple myeloma with middle-down de novo sequencing and native mass spectrometry 

Valerie J Winton

Room A411-412, Oral Presentation 9.30 AM – 9.50 AM



Middle Down Approach for the Characterization of Monoclonal Antibodies After Ides Digestion and ETD Fragmentation

Colin Wynne

MP 782, Poster Session 10.30 AM – 2.30 PM



Tuesday, June 4

Analysis of Zika Viral Polyprotein N- and O-glycosylation Using a Novel Lectin-chemoenzymatic Enrichment 

Shuang Yang

TP 655, Poster Session 10.30 AM – 2.30 PM



Comprehensive Characterization of Antibody Drug Conjugates Enabled by Top-down and Middle-down Mass Spectrometry Strategies

Eli J Larson

TP 601, Poster Session 10.30 AM – 2.30 PM



Wednesday, June 5

Analysis of O-glycosylated Biopharmaceuticals using an O-glycan dependent Endoprotease and LC-MS

Andreas Nägeli

WP 334, Poster Session 10.30 AM – 2.30 PM

OpeRATOR® and OglyZOR®


MALDI-in-source decay FT-ICR MS for top-down and middle-down characterization of monoclonal antibodies 

Simone Nicolardi

WP 032, Poster Session 10.30 AM – 2.30 PM

FabRICATOR® and GingisKHAN®


Application of a label-free and domain-specific free thiol method in monoclonal antibody characterization

Yi Pu

WP 040, Poster Session 10.30 AM – 2.30 PM



Collision induced unfolding experiments to decipher the structural regions of a hybrid monoclonal antibody

Thomas Botzanowski

WP 481, Poster Session 10.30 AM – 2.30 PM



Thursday, June 6

Intact and Subunit Mass Analysis Using Native Ion Exchange Chromatography Coupled to an Orbitrap Mass Spectrometer 

Qian Liu

ThP 663, Poster Session 10.30 AM – 2.30 PM



Ultra-Fast Analysis of Intact Proteins Using SPE- TOF 

Kevin McCann

ThP 149, Poster Session 10.30 AM – 2.30 PM



Isomeric linkage determination of Sialic acid on O-glycopeptides using O-protease and LC-MS/MS 

Jieqiang Zhong

ThP 071, Poster Session 10.30 AM – 2.30 PM



Free Thiols using FabRICATOR® and FabALACTICA®

In biopharmaceutical product development and manufacturing, free thiol content is one of the product quality attributes of interest as its presence could impact structure, stability and function of the product.

At Biogen, Yi Pu et al have optimized a label-free LC (UV) / MS method for free thiol quantification at a subunit level of IgG1 and IgG4. The new method, which is based on a method developed by Faid et al*, was compared to two conventional approaches, Ellman’s assay and peptide mapping.

It is very challenging to identify free thiol forms by mass spectrometry at the intact antibody level. By combining the highly specific proteolytic enzymes FabALACTICA (IgdE) and FabRICATOR (IdeS) the authors generated the subunits Fab, hinge and Fc/2, suited for confident mass determination. The subunits were subsequently separated on a polyphenyl reversed phase column in order to separate free thiol forms from their corresponding disulphide bond-linked form. A baseline or near baseline separation was obtained making it possible to calculate the free thiol content on each subunit.

The result of the quantification of free thiols from all three methods were comparable and showed similar trends even though the peptide mapping approach generally gave a higher free thiol content.

The authors conclude that compared to Ellman’s assay, the subunit approach is more sensitive, requires less sample and provides domain-specific information of the free thiol content. Compared to peptide mapping, the subunit method is faster, less labour intensive and lacks dependence on labelling efficiency. Finally, it demonstrated promise in the quantification of free thiols in a high throughput manner with domain specific information available.

The developed method has successfully been applied to several in-house IgG1 mAbs with different hydrophobicity and isoelectric points.


*V. Faid Y. Leblanc N. Bihoreau G. Chevreux Middle-up analysis of monoclonal antibodies after combined IgdE and IdeS hinge proteolysis: Investigation of free sulfhydryls, J. Pharm. Biomed. Anal. 149 (2018) 541-546, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpba.2017.11.046


For more information on FabRICATOR and FabALACTICA please visit the following pages:

The full text paper is available online:

FabRICATOR driven middle-down glycan analysis using NMR

March 15, 2019 | References |

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Analysis of the glycosylation of therapeutic antibodies and other biopharmaceuticals is typically done by LC or LC/MS-based methods. However, each analytical technique has its strengths and weaknesses which makes the development of orthogonal methodologies crucial for in-depth characterization. In this study, researchers from the FDA present a middle-down NMR approach for studying glycosylation of therapeutic antibodies. Analogous to middle-down MS methods, the antibodies were digested using FabRICATOR to yield Fc/2 fragments. After chemical denaturation, these exhibited high enough solubility and sufficiently fast molecular dynamics to allow for glycan analysis by 2D-NMR without the need for isotope labeling or glycan release. Using this method, the authors were able to determine the chemical structure, glycosidic linkage position and anomeric configuration of each monosaccharide unit of the major Fc N-glycan structures and were able to quantify important quality attributes such as galactosylation and fucosylation.



For more information on FabRICATOR please visit the following pages:

The full text paper is available online:

SmartEnzymes™ assist MALDI in-source decay FT-ICR Mass Spectrometry analysis

March 14, 2019 | References |

The Consortium for Top-down Proteomics is currently conducting a large inter lab study. They are developing methods for the analysis of intact mAbs and antibody subunits generated by digestion with either FabRICATOR or GingisKHAN. In this paper, van der Burgt et al. present a novel method for the analysis of mAbs based on MALDI in-source decay fragmentation coupled with high resolution FT-ICR mass spectrometry. The standard method for antibody sequence confirmation by MS is based on fragmentation using electron transfer dissociation (ETD). The MALDI-ISD based method yielded complementary fragments to those observed in ETD experiments, translating to increased sequence coverage. Using digestion with either FabRICATOR or GingisKHAN, a higher total sequence coverage could be achieved than for the intact mAbs. FabRICATOR digestion also allowed for direct analysis of Fc glycosylation by MALDI-FT-ICR without the need for LC separation.


Meet the Scientist

We got the opportunity to interview the last author of the paper, Dr Simone Nicolardi at Leiden University Medical Center.


Tell us about yourself?

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I am a senior researcher at the Center for Proteomics and Metabolomics at Leiden University Medical Center (https://www.lumc.nl/org/proteomics-metabolomics/). My work is focused on the development of ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometry-based methods for the analysis of biomolecules such as glycans, peptides, and proteins. This includes the structural characterization of monoclonal antibodies for determination of primary amino acid sequence and post-translational modifications.


What is new with the MALDI in-source decay fragmentation you have published?

Our newly developed method combines the advantage of ultrahigh resolution mass measurements, obtained using high-end instrumentation and novel spectra processing software, with the efficient fragmentation provided by MALDI-in-source decay using 1,5-diaminonaphthalene as a reducing MALDI matrix. The main advantages are complementary sequence information compared to other mass spectrometric fragmentation techniques and the use of minimal sample preparation procedure that does not require separation techniques such as liquid chromatography.


What are the advantages of using FabRICATOR or GingisKHAN?

In MALDI-ISD experiments singly charged ions are generated from the protein backbone. Thus, a wide m/z-range is needed for the detection of all fragments generated from large compounds, such as monoclonal antibodies. Even in high-end MS instrumentation, this m/z-range is limited and sequence information is obtained from N- and C-terminal protein portions only. The use of FabRICATOR or GingisKHAN allows extending sequence information of heavy chains to more internal protein regions. In addition, after digestion mAb Fc portion can be analyzed directly by MALDI-MS allowing the detection of most abundant Fc glycoforms.


How do you view sample preparation prior to MS analysis of mAbs?

The structure characterization of mAbs is generally performed using a multi-level approach based on different analytical methods. Many of these methods are based on liquid chromatography (LC) electrospray ionization (ESI) MS. LC is used to separate mAb subunits and to remove ESI-non-compatible compounds such as salts. Our method is based on MALDI which is known to be more tolerant to salts in the sample. Thus, MALDI-ISD MS avoids laborious sample preparation steps that can lead to artificial modification of mAbs. Also, it comes with short analysis times in contrast to other chromatographic techniques.


What are you working on now?

Our attention is now on bispecific mAbs. We apply our MALDI-based method for the simultaneous analysis of all six different polypeptide chains generated after treatment with FabRICATOR and chemical reduction of disulfide bonds. Our aim is to develop a fast method for the monitoring of chemically induced mAb modifications.


Sequence Analysis

For more information on FabRICATOR or GingisKHAN please visit the following pages:

The full text paper is available online:

OpeRATOR Presentation at GlycoBioTec

February 13, 2019 | Uncategorized |

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Genovis was selected to present at the GlycoBioTec 2019 Conference in Berlin in January. Andreas Nägeli, Senior Scientist at Genovis, presented novel workflows based on the O-glycan specific OpeRATOR enzyme and GlycOCATCH coupled to LC-MS.




FabRICATOR, SialEXO and OglyZOR in Middle-up HILIC/HRMS Approach



In an article by Valentina D’Atri et al. recently published in Analytical Chemistry (2019), the scientists developed a middle-up HILIC/HRMS workflow for detailed characterisation of the Fc fusion protein etanercept.  The etanercept molecule consists of an IgG1 Fc domain fused to a tumour necrosis factor receptor (TNFR) and is used in the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. The protein is highly glycosylated and contains numerous O- and N-glycosylation sites that require extensive characterization.


To develop a strategy that would work with a mass spec instrument of limited resolution, the authors used FabRICATOR enzyme to specifically digest the etanercept molecule and generate TNFR and Fc/2 subunits. Combinations of the O- and N- glycosidases SialEXO, OglyZOR and PNGaseF were applied to allow evaluation of the O- and N-glycosylation patterns of TNFR and Fc/2 respectively. In addition, complete deglycosylation allowed for primary structure analysis. By using a wide-pore HILIC stationary phase, appropriate separation of the subunits with different degrees of remaining glycans was achieved, and this significantly facilitated spectra deconvolution.


Applying this workflow, D’Atri and colleagues were able to assess the main PTMs, the subunit distribution of glycans, the overall N/O glycan composition and the sialylation profiles of each subunit.


Read more about the SmartEnzymes in this publication



D’Atri, V. et al., 2018. Orthogonal Middle-up Approaches for Characterization of the Glycan Heterogeneity of Etanercept by Hydrophilic Interaction Chromatography Coupled to High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry. Analytical Chemistry, 91(1), pp.873–880.


OpeRATOR Publication from Johns Hopkins University

Scientists from the prestigious Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have used OpeRATOR to develop a workflow to map O-glycosylated sites on proteins in very complex samples. O-glycoproteins are notoriously difficult to study due to the low abundance, high structural heterogeneity and low stability. Previous approaches using affinity enrichment or engineered cell culture systems either lack efficiency or are ill-suited forO-glycoproteomic studies of complex samples.

In the workflow developed by Weiming Yang and colleagues, protein samples such as serum or kidney tissue were digested with trypsin, immobilized onto beads through the N-terminus and treated with OpeRATOR and SialEXO. OpeRATOR is an endoprotease and derived from the gut commensal bacteria Akkermansia muciniphila that specifically cleaves peptides and proteins N-terminally of O-glycosylated serine or threonine residues. Therefore, only O-glycopeptides are released from the solid support and were identified using ETD mass spectrometry.

Using this workflow, Yang et al. were able to map over 3000 O-glycosylation sites from human serum, T cells and kidney tissue, almost doubling the number of known O-glycosylation sites. They were also able to detect and quantify the aberrant O-glycosylation patterns in kidney tumors, showcasing the potential use of such methodologies for both basic research and diagnostic purposes.


Meet the Scientist

We got the opportunity to interview the first author of the paper, Weiming Yang at Johns Hopkins University.


Weiming Yang

Tell us about yourself?
I am a Research Associate in Mass Spectrometry Core Facility in the Center for Biomarker Discovery and Translation (www.biomarkercenter.org) of the Johns Hopkins University. The Mass Spectrometry Core Facility carries large-scale proteomics with particular emphasis on protein glycosylation on proteome scale to elucidate functions of glycoproteins on biology and disease. Before this position, I was a postdoc fellow in the same lab and worked on innovative glycoproteomics methods and HIV research. My interest in protein O-linked glycosylation started from every beginning at Hopkins that I was able to identify an O-linked glycosylation site in HIV gp120 from the infectious virion. Later on, I developed a series of glycoproteomic methods to study protein N- and O-linked glycosylation. The development of novel glycoproteomic methodologies led to new areas toward the discovery of the biomarker for HIV reservoir and new insight into cancer biology.


What is new with the ExoO method you have developed?
The major advantage of EXoO is its applicability to analyze clinical samples that is a breakthrough and central to reveal the significance of protein O-linked glycosylation in diseases. Using EXoO, now, scientists can start to gain new insight into their biological systems regarding O-linked glycoproteins. O-linked glycoproteins are ubiquitous on the cell surface and extracellular environment that is highly relevant to new treatment for diseases and diagnostics. Also, the EXoO is advantageous to analyze mucin-type O-linked glycoproteins that cannot be easily analyzed by conventional methods. The EXoO method identifies a large number of O-linked glycosylation sites in the sample that may be easily identified by using other methods such as various enrichments coupled with ETD-MS/MS.


How did you perform the analysis prior to this method?
We tried to use the same solid phase method to immobilize the peptides but released O-glycopeptides using beta-elimination to study site of protein O-linked glycosylation. Beta-elimination is a chemical reaction that can tag the site of protein O-linked glycosylation but give some background release of peptides from the solid support. We tried ETD-MS/MS for O-linked glycopeptide analysis but the number of identification is lower than the use of the current method using EXoO to release the O-glycopeptides.


What are the benefits of applying Operator in the workflow?
The OpeRATOR enzyme is a key component in the workflow. The high specificity of OpeRATOR enabled release of site-specific O-linked glycopeptides from solid phase support. Therefore, the resulting glycopeptides are relatively pure for improved identification.


What can you tell us about what you currently are working on?
Currently, we are applying the method to study different diseases including cancers and HIV reservoir.


How would you describe the impact of OpeRATOR on the O-glycan field?
The discovery of OpeRATOR changes of the game in the field of O-linked glycoproteomics. It makes the analysis of large-scale and site-specific O-linked glycoproteome in clinical samples feasible. For O-glycans, the specificity of OpeRATOR is not completely clear that will need further investigation. O-glycans have many different structures. The glycomic methods may still be the best way to go.


What are your thoughts on the future of O-glycan analysis?
EXoO and OpeRATOR provide unique research tools to identify the site of O-linked glycosylation. So far, the evidence supports that core 1 Gal-GalNAc structure can be studied by the use of OpeRATOR. Glycomic method focus on the identification of all different O-glycan structures with linkage and quantitative information. In the future, the structures of O-linked glycans on the specific sites on the proteins can be revealed in a single workflow.



For more information on OpeRATOR go the the following pages:


The full text paper is available online:

Poster Presentations at PEGS Europe 2018

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This week, scientists from Genovis are presenting two poster at the Protein Engineering Summit in Lisbon, Portugal. The posters cover our O-glycan specific endoprotease Operator and the recently launched FabRICATOR-HPLC column for automated antibidy subunit generation. Check out the poster abstracts below:

An O-glycan Specific Endoprotease with Applications in Glycoprotein Analysis using LC-MS

Helen Nyhlen, Maria Nordgren, Stephan Björk, Rolf Lood, Fredrik Leo, Fredrik Olsson
Genovis AB, Sweden

Changes in protein glycosylation may have an impact on the structure and function of a glycoprotein and O-glycosylation has drawn more and more attention for its roles in a wide range of biological processes. Characterization of glycosylation is of growing importance for the development and quality control of recombinant glycoprotein drugs and biosimilars. The study of O-linked glycosylation within the field of glycoproteomics is however challenging due to complicated sample preparation, difficult analytical procedures and the lack of O-glycan specific enzymes.

An O-glycan specific protease originating from the mucin degrading bacteria Akkermansia muciniphila has been described previously. The enzyme is dependent on the presence of O-glycans for digestion and hydrolyzes the peptide bond N-terminally to O-glycosylated serine and threonine residues. This feature can be used for the generation of intact O-glycopeptides to study site occupancy and composition of O-glycans in various biologic samples. We present here workflows that enabled determination of O-glycan sites and composition for O-glycosylated biopharmaceuticals and for proteins in human serum.

The O-linked glycosylation sites of biopharmaceuticals were assessed by treatment with PNGaseF, sialidases, O-protease and/or trypsin overnight prior LC/MS. The unique MS/MS peptides obtained revealed and defined the O-glycosylated threonine and serine residues. Enrichment of O-glycoproteins from human serum was achieved in native conditions using an affinity binding resin for O-glycan protein based on agarose beads with immobilized inactive O-protease. The complex protein sample was desialylated during the incubation step for binding. Bound proteins were then eluted by urea and treated with PNGaseF, active O-protease and/or trypsin followed by RP-C18 or HILIC separation and ESI-QTOF/MS analysis. The resin displayed high affinity for core 1 mucin-type glycans. With this workflow peptides and O-glycopeptides, with site-specific information, from several serum proteins were identified.

To summarize, using the characteristics of the O-protease and the O-glycoprotein affinity binding resin, strategies for the characterization of O-glycosylated proteins from pure and complex protein samples have been developed. The O-protease and the O-glycoprotein binding resin are potentially useful tools for deep characterization of O-glycoproteins.


Rapid On-column Digestion for Automated Monoclonal Antibody Analysis

Stephan Björk, Andreas Nägeli, Maria Nordgren, Linda Andersson, Helen Nyhlen, Jonathan Sjögren, Fredrik Olsson
Genovis AB, Lund, Sweden

Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and other IgG-based biopharmaceuticals are a fast-growing market. The inherent heterogeneity of such biologics necessitates detailed characterization by liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry (LC-MS) during development and production. While bottom-up peptide mapping is still the gold standard for analysis of critical quality attributes, such approaches are resource and time intensive in terms of both data acquisition and analysis. Top-down and middle-down approaches are therefore gaining in popularity. Antibody subunit analysis has become a widely accepted analytical strategy for rapid characterization of therapeutic antibodies and related products. The IdeS enzyme specifically digests IgG just below the hinge, generating F(ab’)2 and Fc/2 fragments. Reduction of disulfide bonds yields fragments of 23-25kDa in size which are amenable to high-resolution mass spectrometry. The IdeS based middle-level LC-MS workflow therefore enables the analysis of multiple antibody quality attributes such as glycosylation, oxidation, and C-terminal lysine clipping.

Here we present a rapid and automatable solution for antibody subunit generation in an HPLC column format. FabRICATOR (IdeS) enzyme was immobilized on the column to allow for automated middle-level analysis in a 2D-HPLC setup. The mAbs are digested on-column in the first dimension and the resulting subunits are separated and analyzed in the second dimension by RP-HPLC. This could be achieved with minor modifications to an HPLC-MS setup and potentially be connected directly to a bioreactor for automated monitoring of an on-going mAb production. The column tolerates continuous operation at 37°C for >10 days without a significant decrease in digestion performance and delivers consistent results for Fc glycan analysis during the entire period of operation. Additionally, other critical quality attributes such as Fab glycosylation and lysine clipping could be monitored. FabRICATOR-HPLC provides a fast solution for antibody subunit generation while reducing sample handling errors and increasing throughput.

SmartEnzymes™ in Multiplexed Middle-Down MS for targeted structure analysis

October 18, 2018 | Applications, References |



 In a recent article by Srzentic et al. (2018) the authors present a multiplexed middle-down MS workflow with improved performance for targeted protein structure analysis. Using GingisKHAN for antibody digestion, the authors analysed the F(ab) subunits of a therapeutic mAb. By implementing spectral and transient averaging of mass spectra across several LC-MS experiments, the authors revealed valuable information on chain pairing in the mAb. 


To make the analysis, the therapeutic mAb trastuzumab was digested above the hinge using the GingisKHAN enzyme to generate intact F(ab) subunits. Intact myoglobin was subjected to analysis in a top-down MS approach to benchmark the workflow. The GingisKHAN-generated F(ab) subunits were then analysed using the middle-down MS workflow to compare the performance of data averaging approaches.


The results show the performances of spectral and transient averaging for tandem mass spectra as separate software tools for structural protein analysis. The transient averaging provided the most extensive sequence coverage for the F(ab) subunits, followed by spectral averaging. Furthermore, utilizing the multiplexed middle-down MS workflow for subunit analysis, the authors detected low-abundance branched product ions revealing valuable information about the light and heavy chain connectivity.


GingisKHAN® (Kgp enzyme) is a cysteine protease that digests human IgG1 at a specific site above the hinge region. The enzyme generates intact Fc and Fab subunits in 60 minutes.

Learn more about GingisKHAN

Srzentic et al., 2018. Multiplexed Middle-Down Mass Spectrometry Reveals Light and Heavy Chain Connectivity in a Monoclonal Antibody