May 19, 2017
Characterization of charge-based variants by mass spectrometry (MS) is required for the analytical development of a new biologic entity and its marketing approval by health authorities. However, standard peak-based data analysis approaches are time-consuming and biased toward the detection, identification, and quantification of main variants only. The aim of this study was to characterize in-depth acidic and basic species of a stressed IgG1 monoclonal antibody using comprehensive and unbiased MS data evaluation tools. Fractions collected from cation ion exchange (CEX) chromatography were analyzed as intact, after reduction of disulfide bridges, and after proteolytic cleavage using Lys-C. Data of both intact and reduced samples were evaluated consistently using a time-resolved deconvolution algorithm. Peptide mapping data were processed simultaneously, quantified and compared in a systematic manner for all MS signals and fractions. Differences observed between the fractions were then further characterized and assigned. Time-resolved deconvolution enhanced pattern visualization and data interpretation of main and minor modifications in 3-dimensional maps across CEX fractions. Relative quantification of all MS signals across CEX fractions before peptide assignment enabled the detection of fraction-specific chemical modifications at abundances below 1%. Acidic fractions were shown to be heterogeneous, containing antibody fragments, glycated as well as deamidated forms of the heavy and light chains. In contrast, the basic fractions contained mainly modifications of the C-terminus and pyroglutamate formation at the N-terminus of the heavy chain. Systematic data evaluation was performed to investigate multiple data sets and comprehensively extract main and minor differences between each CEX fraction in an unbiased manner.