Glycosphingolipids (GSLs) are found in cellular membranes of most organisms and play important roles in cell-cell recognition, signaling, growth, and adhesion, among others. A method based on nanoflow high performance liquid chromatography-chip-quadrupole-time-of-flight mass spectrometry (nanoHPLC Chip-Q-TOF MS) was applied towards identifying and quantifying intact GSLs from a variety of samples, including cultured cell lines and animal tissue. The method provides the composition and sequence of the glycan, as well as variations in the ceramide portion of the GSL. It was used to profile the changes in the glycolipidome of Caco-2 cells as they undergo differentiation. A total of 226 unique GSLs were found among Caco-2 samples from five differentiation time-points. The method provided a comprehensive glycolipidomic profile of a cell during differentiation to yield the dynamic variation of intact GSL structures.
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