Laboratory diagnosis of congenital disorders of glycosylation type I by analysis of transferrin glycoforms

Dusica Babovic-Vuksanovic, John F. O'Brien

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Congenital disorders of glycosylation (CDG) are being recognized as a rapidly growing and complex group of disorders. The pathophysiology results from depressed synthesis or remodeling of oligosaccharide moieties of glycoproteins. The ultimate result is the formation of abnormal glycoproteins affecting their structure and metabolic functions. The most thoroughly studied subset of CDG are the type I defects affecting N-glycosylation. Causal mutations occur in at least 12 different genes which encode primarily monosaccharide transferases necessary for N-glycosylation in the endoplasmic reticulum. The broad clinical presentation of these glycosylation defects challenge clinicians to test for these defects in a variety of clinical settings. The first described CDG was a phosphomannomutase deficiency (CDG-Ia). The original method used to define the glycosylation defect was isoelectric focusing (IEF) of transferrin. More recently, the use of other charge separation methods and electrospray-mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) has proven valuable in detecting type I CDG defects. By mass resolution, the under-glycosylation of transferrin is characterized as the total absence of one or both N-linked oligosaccharide. Beyond providing a new understanding of the structure of transferrin in type I CDG patients, it is adaptable to high throughput serum analysis. The use of transferrin under-glycosylation to detect the type I CDG provides limited insight into the specific site of the defect in oligosaccharide assembly since its value is constrained to observation of the final product of glycoprotein synthesis. New analytical targets and tools are converging with the clinical need for diagnosis of CDG. Defining the biosynthetic sites responsible for specific CDG phenotypes is in progress, and ten more type I defects have been putatively identified. This review discusses current methods, such as IEF and targeted proteomics using mass spectrometry, that are used routinely to test for type I CDG disorders, along with some newer approaches to define the defective synthetic sites responsible for the type I CDG defects. All diagnostic endeavors are followed by the quest for a reliable treatment. The isolated success of CDG-Ib treatment will be described with the hope that this may expand to other type I CDG disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-311
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Diagnosis and Therapy
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2007


  • Congenital disorders
  • Diagnostics
  • Proteomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Pharmacology


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