An improved understanding of glycosylation will provide new insights into many biological processes. In the analysis of oligosaccharides from biological samples, a strict regime is typically followed to ensure sample integrity. However, the fate of glycans that have been exposed to environmental conditions over millennia has not yet been investigated. This is also true for understanding the evolution of the glycosylation machinery in humans as well as in any other biological systems. In this study, we examined the glycosylation of tissue samples derived from four mummies which have been naturally preserved:-the 5,300 year old a € Iceman called Oetzia €, found in the Tyrolean Alps; the 2,400 year old a € Scythian warriora € and a € Scythian Princessa € , found in the Altai Mountains; and a 4 year old apartment mummy, found in Vienna/Austria. The number of N-glycans that were identified varied both with the age and the preservation status of the mummies. More glycan structures were discovered in the contemporary sample, as expected, however it is significant that glycan still exists in the ancient tissue samples. This discovery clearly shows that glycans persist for thousands of years, and these samples provide a vital insight into ancient glycosylation, offering us a window into the distant past.
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