Milk Glycoproteome Project
Human milk is a highly functional food for the growing infant where the protein fraction constitutes not only a source of nutrients but also a complex source of bioactive compounds. Over one-half of all mammalian proteins are glycosylated – decorated with complex sugars called glycans – and glycans are often required for the biological functions of proteins. The functions of the glycans vary depending on the protein to which they are attached and the precise site of attachment. The Milk Glycoproteome Project is an integrated approach to compiling data on milk glycoprotein expression, structure, and function during lactation. Research involves a multi-level approach that combines protein isolation and glycoprotein purification strategies followed by state-of-the-art Mass Spectrometry-based analytical methods (MALDI- and ESI-FTICR, nano-LC-chip-TOF and Q-TOF) for glycan-structure elucidation, site specific occupancy determination, micro-heterogeneities, as well as quantitative analysis to identify dynamic changes across lactation stages. Project research also includes functional studies to determine the biological roles of glycans and glycoproteins.