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    Glycolipids are complex glycoconjugates composed of a glycan headgroup and a lipid moiety. Their modular biosynthesis creates a vast amount of diverse and often isomeric structures, which fulfill highly specific biological functions. To date, no gold-standard analytical technique can provide a comprehensive structural elucidation of complex glycolipids, and insufficient tools for isomer distinction can lead to wrong assignments. Herein we use cryogenic gas-phase infrared spectroscopy to systematically investigate different kinds of isomerism in immunologically relevant glycolipids. We show that all structural features, including isomeric glycan headgroups, anomeric configurations and different lipid moieties, can be unambiguously resolved by diagnostic spectroscopic fingerprints in a narrow spectral range. The results allow for the characterization of isomeric glycolipid mixtures and biological applications.


    Carla Kirschbaum, Kim Greis, Eike Mucha, Lisa Kain, Shenglou Deng, Andreas Zappe, Sandy Gewinner, Wieland Schöllkopf, Gert von Helden, Gerard Meijer, Paul B Savage, Mateusz Marianski, Luc Teyton, Kevin Pagel. Unravelling the structural complexity of glycolipids with cryogenic infrared spectroscopy. Nature communications. 2021 Feb 22;12(1):1201

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    PMID: 33619275

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