Complex Carbohydrates: Improvements in methods, standards, and software are still needed to move mass spec analysis of carbohydrates into the mainstream.
Carbohydrates are ubiquitous. They densely carpet cell surfaces. They are the main component of the extracellular matrix that surrounds cells. They are involved in many aspects of cell-cell communication.
Glycans, a type of carbohydrate, are “the first thing a signaling molecule encounters when it contacts a cell,” says Robert J. Linhardt, a biochemist at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute who studies carbohydrate structure and function. “They’re the first thing a virus encounters when it infects a cell.” As many as 80% of human proteins are thought to be decorated with carbohydrates, he notes.