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High Resolution CZE-MS Quantitative Characterization of Intact Biopharmaceutical Proteins: Proteoforms of Interferon-β1

Bush, David R., Zang, Li, Belov, Arseniy M., Ivanov, Alexander R., Karger, Barry L.
Analytical chemistry 2016 v.88 no.2 pp. 1138-1146
biopharmaceuticals, capillary zone electrophoresis, coatings, crosslinking, deamidation, glycoproteins, glycosylation, humans, hydrodynamics, isomers, mass spectrometry, methionine, molecular weight, quantitative analysis, sialic acids
New and improved methods are required for the enhanced characterization of complex biopharmaceuticals, especially those with charge and glycan heterogeneity. High resolution separation and mass spectrometry (MS) analysis of intact proteoforms can contribute significantly to the characterization of such proteins, many of which are glycoproteins. Here, we report on capillary zone electrophoresis (CZE) coupled via a commercial CESI sheathless interface to an Orbitrap ELITE MS for the intact analysis of recombinant human interferon-β1 (Avonex, rhIFN-β1), a biopharmaceutical with complex glycosylation at a single N-linked site. Using a cross-linked polyethylenimine coating, column efficiencies between 350,000 and 450,000 plates were produced, allowing separation based on charge and subtle hydrodynamic volume differences. A total of 138 proteoforms were found, and 55 were quantitated. Charge species due to deamidation and sialylation were separated by CZE. Given the high column efficiency, isobaric positional isomers of a single sialic acid on biantennary glycan antennae were resolved. Further, triantennary isomers (antenna on α(1–3) or α(1–6) arms) were separated and confirmed by exoglycosidase digestion. Proteoforms of the N-terminal cleavage of methionine were detected by precursor molecular weight and top-down ETD and HCD analysis of the reduced protein. Quantitative analysis suggested potential correlations between the methionine loss with the relative amount of the deamidation, as well as the level of deamidation with glycan structure. We demonstrate that high resolution CZE separation of intact glycoprotein species coupled to MS has significant potential for the in-depth characterization and quantitative analysis of biopharmaceutical proteoforms.