Recent exploitation of the avian immune system has highlighted its suitability for the generation of high-quality, high-affinity antibodies to a wide range of antigens for a number of therapeutic and biotechnological applications. The glycosylation profile of potential immunoglobulin therapeutics is species specific and is heavily influenced by the cell-line/culture conditions used for production. Hence, knowledge of the carbohydrate moieties present on immunoglobulins is essential as certain glycan structures can adversely impact their physicochemical and biological properties. This study describes the detailed N-glycan profile of IgY polyclonal antibodies from the serum of leghorn chickens using a fully quantitative high-throughput N-glycan analysis approach, based on ultra-performance liquid chromatography (UPLC) separation of released glycans. Structural assignments revealed serum IgY to contain complex bi-, tri- and tetra-antennary glycans with or without core fucose and bisects, hybrid and high mannose glycans. High sialic acid content was also observed, with the presence of rare sialic acid structures, likely polysialic acids. It is concluded that IgY is heavily decorated with complex glycans; however, no known non-human or immunogenic glycans were identified. Thus, IgY is a potentially promising candidate for immunoglobulin-based therapies for the treatment of various infectious diseases.
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