Commonly, lectins have been utilized to isolate glycoproteins from biological fluids, such as serum and plasma. The use of lectins has advanced many areas of medical research, such as aging, cancer prevention, as well as other clinical problems. The chapter also desribes the work conducted in the Lebrilla Laboratory utilizing lectin biology to isolate glycans present in the egg jelly of the frog Xenopus laevis. In this project, the general use of bioaffinity probes for oligosaccharide analysis was examined prior to the work of developing bioaffinity matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) lectin probes. The methods developed in this phase of the project were ultimately used with the lectins to extract glycans from complex and heterogenous mixtures. Biologically active probes for MALDI can be highly useful for the rapid isolation of a compound from a mixture, thus allowing researchers to complete rapid analysis using mass spectrometry (MS).
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