Glycomics guidelines and checklist now available for public comment
January 25, 2013 § Leave a comment
“MCP has been a leader in the -omics fields and establishes guidelines by which publications that use mass spectrometry can be standardized,” says MCP Co-editor Ralph Bradshaw at the University of California, San Francisco. Proteomics was one field for which standards were introduced by MCP so that researchers could both reproduce and rely on the experiments described in the papers. The field of glycomics, the comprehensive analysis of all glyproteins and other glycoconjugates in a biological unit, has now reached that same point.
“This is the first time in history that the technology has existed to actually do glycomics” at a detailed level, says MCP Associate Editor Gerald Hart of Johns Hopkins University. “New instrumentation, like electron transfer dissociation and MALDI techniques, didn’t even exist five years ago for sugars. Now we’re on the cutting edge of where this instrumentation could have a huge impact on the field of glycobiology.”
The new instrumentation and methods will unleash a deluge of data and new insights. “Carbohydrates are quite different from proteins. If you identify a protein by mass spectrometry, you’ve identified the polypeptide,” explains Hart. “If you identify carbohydrates, they have extreme structural diversity that depends on the biology of the system and the level of the analysis.”
Al Burlingame, the other MCP co-editor at the University of California, San Francisco, says that the field of glycomics, because of its potential as a clinical tool for disease diagnostics and therapeutics, has attracted a diversity of scientists, not all of whom are trained in complex sugar chemistry and mass spectrometry. For this reason, he, Bradshaw, Hart and MCP editorial board member Lance Wells at the University of Georgia, Athens, say it’s important that rigor be introduced in the way the data are reported in publications. The proposed MCP guidelines, which come along with a checklist, are meant to instill some order into the burgeoning field so that all researchers can understand the diverse types of sugar analyses.
The draft guidelines and checklist for glycobiology are similar to the guidelines and checklists MCP already has in place for clinical data and mass spectrometric analyses of peptides. The new checklist will help authors of manuscripts ensure that they are clearly communicating how they did their analyses so that reviewers and readers can understand their experiments.
Burlingame, Bradshaw, Hart and Wells all emphasize that the checklist is just that, a checklist. It’s not a quality check of the data. It, and the guidelines on which it is based, just make sure that all the bits and pieces of information are there so that everyone can understand how the experiments were carried out.
Bradshaw explains that the goal is to set standards so that only technically strong reports make it into the literature. He adds that “getting universal buy-in is an important aspect of” setting standards. For this reason, MCP is making its proposed guidelines and checklist available for public comment for a 30-day period.
To send your thoughts and opinions, click here. The journal would like to formally adopt the guidelines and checklist by March 1.