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Central project for biochemical analysis of proteoglycans and GAGs and for element-specific microscopy

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Project content

Inflammatory processes are accompanied by changes in glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), which can form complexes with cationic metallic imaging probes.
The aim of this project is to understand the molecular factors for the binding of cationic imaging probes to GAGs using chromatographic, electrophoretic and mass spectrometric methods. The in situ localisation of metals in biological inflamed samples will be elucidated by LA-ICP-MS imaging. The spatial arrangement of GAGs in inflamed tissue will be investigated using a GAG MALDI imaging mass spectrometric approach.

Our team

Project Lead:
Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Kevin Pagel
Dr. rer. nat. Heike Traub

PhD Candidates (PhD) and Postdoctoral Researchers (PostDoc):


  • Biskup K, Stellmach C, Braicu EI, Sehouli J, Blanchard V. Chondroitin Sulfate Disaccharides, a Serum Marker for Primary Serous Epithelial Ovarian Cancer. Diagnostics (Basel). 2021 Jun 23;11(7):1143. doi: 10.3390/diagnostics11071143. PMID: 34201657; PMCID: PMC8304809.
  • Zappe A, Miller RL, Struwe WB, Pagel K. State-of-the-art glycosaminoglycan characterization. Mass Spectrom Rev. 2021 Oct 5. doi: 10.1002/mas.21737. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34608657.
  • Szekeres GP, Krekic S, Miller RL, Mero M, Pagel K, Heiner Z. The interaction of chondroitin sulfate with a lipid monolayer observed by using nonlinear vibrational spectroscopy. Phys Chem Chem Phys. 2021 Jun 16;23(23):13389-13395. doi: 10.1039/d1cp01975a. PMID: 34105546; PMCID: PMC8207512.
  • Szekeres GP, Pagel K, Heiner Z. Analytical challenges of glycosaminoglycans at biological interfaces. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2021 Oct 14:1–9. doi: 10.1007/s00216-021-03705-w. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34647134; PMCID: PMC8514262.
  • Miller RL, Guimond SE, Schwörer R, Zubkova OV, Tyler PC, Xu Y, Liu J, Chopra P, Boons GJ, Grabarics M, Manz C, Hofmann J, Karlsson NG, Turnbull JE, Struwe WB, Pagel K. Shotgun ion mobility mass spectrometry sequencing of heparan sulfate saccharides. Nat Commun. 2020 Mar 20;11(1):1481. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-15284-y. PMID: 32198425; PMCID: PMC7083916.
  • Lettow M, Greis K, Grabarics M, Horlebein J, Miller RL, Meijer G, von Helden G, Pagel K. Chondroitin Sulfate Disaccharides in the Gas Phase: Differentiation and Conformational Constraints. J Phys Chem A. 2021 May 27;125(20):4373-4379. doi: 10.1021/acs.jpca.1c02463. Epub 2021 May 12. PMID: 33979516; PMCID: PMC8279649.
  • Lettow M, Grabarics M, Mucha E, Thomas DA, Polewski Ł, Freyse J, Rademann J, Meijer G, von Helden G, Pagel K. IR action spectroscopy of glycosaminoglycan oligosaccharides. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2020 Jan;412(3):533-537. doi: 10.1007/s00216-019-02327-7. Epub 2019 Dec 18. PMID: 31853603; PMCID: PMC6992547.
  • Lettow M, Grabarics M, Greis K, Mucha E, Thomas DA, Chopra P, Boons GJ, Karlsson R, Turnbull JE, Meijer G, Miller RL, von Helden G, Pagel K. Cryogenic Infrared Spectroscopy Reveals Structural Modularity in the Vibrational Fingerprints of Heparan Sulfate Diastereomers. Anal Chem. 2020 Aug 4;92(15):10228-10232. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.0c02048. Epub 2020 Jul 21. PMID: 32658472.
  • Grabarics M, Lettow M, Kirschbaum C, Greis K, Manz C, Pagel K. Mass Spectrometry-Based Techniques to Elucidate the Sugar Code. Chem Rev. 2021 Sep 7. doi: 10.1021/acs.chemrev.1c00380. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34491038.