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A perspective on the primary and three-dimensional structures of carbohydrates
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Organic Chemistry.
2013 (English)In: Carbohydrate Research, ISSN 0008-6215, E-ISSN 1873-426X, Vol. 378, 123-132 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Carbohydrates, in more biologically oriented areas referred to as glycans, constitute one of the four groups of biomolecules. The glycans, often present as glycoproteins or glycolipids, form highly complex structures. In mammals ten monosaccharides are utilized in building glycoconjugates in the form of oligo-(up to about a dozen monomers) and polysaccharides. Subsequent modifications and additions create a large number of different compounds. In bacteria, more than a hundred monosaccharides have been reported to be constituents of lipopolysaccharides, capsular polysaccharides, and exopolysaccharides. Thus, the number of polysaccharide structures possible to create is huge. NMR spectroscopy plays an essential part in elucidating the primary structure, that is, monosaccharide identity and ring size, anomeric configuration, linkage position, and sequence, of the sugar residues. The structural studies may also employ computational approaches for NMR chemical shift predictions (CASPER program). Once the components and sequence of sugar residues have been unraveled, the three-dimensional arrangement of the sugar residues relative to each other (conformation), their flexibility (transitions between and populations of conformational states), together with the dynamics (timescales) should be addressed. To shed light on these aspects we have utilized a combination of experimental liquid state NMR techniques together with molecular dynamics simulations. For the latter a molecular mechanics force field such as our CHARMM-based PARM22/SU01 has been used. The experimental NMR parameters acquired are typically H-1, H-1 cross-relaxation rates (related to NOEs), (3)JCH and (3)JCC trans-glycosidic coupling constants and H-1, C-13-and H-1, H-1-residual dipolar couplings. At a glycosidic linkage two torsion angles phi and psi are defined and for 6-substituted residues also the omega torsion angle is required. Major conformers can be identified for which highly populated states are present. Thus, in many cases a well-defined albeit not rigid structure can be identified. However, on longer timescales, oligosaccharides must be considered as highly flexible molecules since also anti-conformations have been shown to exist with H-C-O-C torsion angles of similar to 180 degrees, compared to syn-conformations in which the protons at the carbon atoms forming the glycosidic linkage are in close proximity. The accessible conformational space governs possible interactions with proteins and both minor changes and significant alterations occur for the oligosaccharides in these interaction processes. Transferred NOE NMR experiments give information on the conformation of the glycan ligand when bound to the proteins whereas saturation transfer difference NMR experiments report on the carbohydrate part in contact with the protein. It is anticipated that the subtle differences in conformational preferences for glycan structures facilitate a means to regulate biochemical processes in different environments. Further developments in the analysis of glycan structure and in particular its role in interactions with other molecules, will lead to clarifications of the importance of structure in biochemical regulation processes essential to health and disease.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 378, 123-132 p.
Keyword [en]
NMR spectroscopy, Molecular dynamics, Conformation, Bacteria, Lipopolysaccharide
National Category
Organic Chemistry
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-94864DOI: 10.1016/j.carres.2013.02.005ISI: 000324299900017OAI: diva2:656623
Swedish Research CouncilKnut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation


Available from: 2013-10-16 Created: 2013-10-16 Last updated: 2016-10-18Bibliographically approved

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