The Center for Biomedical Mass Spectrometry (CBMS) has been awarded a grant by the Massachusetts Life Science Center to advance the ability to characterize spike protein glycosylation as respiratory viruses evolve. The CBMS applies mass spectrometry methods to meet the emerging needs in biomedicine. As part of this award, CBMS has just installed a new Waters SELECT SERIES Cyclic IMS system. The Cyclic system represents a breakthrough technology that will facilitate rapid and accurate characterization of virus spike protein glycosylation to support virus surveillance and vaccine development.

Respiratory viruses including influenza and coronaviruses evolve rapidly as they circulate in the human population. These proteins are coated with a spike protein that recognizes receptors in host airway cells. Spike proteins are decorated by sugar molecules known as glycans. These glycans enhance the structures and functions of proteins, including the virus spike proteins. Researchers track the genetic sequences of viruses as they evolve. The genetic sequences do not predict the manner in which glycans alter the structure and function of virus spike proteins.