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Volume 63, Issue 6


Mechanisms involved in the biosynthesis of polysaccharides

John Robyt
  • Laboratory of Carbohydrate Chemistry and Enzymology, Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, 50011, USA
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Published Online: 2008-12-04 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/s11756-008-0168-y


The mechanisms for the biosynthesis of three polysaccharides are presented: (i) starch synthesized by starch synthase and adenosine diphospho glucose; (ii) dextran synthesized by Leuconostoc mesenteroides B-512FMC dextransucrase and sucrose; and (iii) Acetobacter xylinum cellulose synthesized by cellulose synthase, uridine diphospho glucose, and bactoprenol phosphate. All three enzymes were pulsed with substrates, containing 14C-glucose and chased with the same nonlabeled substrates. When the polysaccharides were isolated, reduced, and hydrolyzed, the pulsed reactions gave 14C-glucitol, which was significantly decreased in the chase reaction. These experiments definitively show that all three polysaccharides are biosynthesized by the addition of glucose to the reducing-ends of the growing polysaccharides and not by the addition to the nonreducing-ends of primers. Additional evidence indicates that glucose and the polysaccharides are covalently attached to the active-sites of the enzymes. A two catalytic-site insertion mechanism at one active-site is proposed for the biosyntheses. Two of the polysaccharides are α-linked glucans, starch and dextran, and cellulose is a β-linked glucan, known for several years to require a bactoprenol lipid phosphate intermediate. It is shown how this intermediate is involved in determining that β-linkages are synthesized. Other β-linked polysaccharides: bacterial cell wall peptidomurein, Salmonella O-antigen polysaccharide, and Xanthanomonas camprestris xanthan, are heteropolysaccharides, with the later two also being hetero-linked polysaccharides, with the β-linkage at the reducing-end of the repeating unit. All three require bactoprenol lipid phosphate intermediates and are biosynthesized by the addition of the repeating units to the reducing-end of a growing polysaccharide chain, with the formation of a β-linkage.

Keywords: starch; dextran; cellulose; starch synthase; dextransucrase; cellulose synthase; reducing-end synthesis

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About the article

Published Online: 2008-12-04

Published in Print: 2008-12-01

Citation Information: Biologia, Volume 63, Issue 6, Pages 980–988, ISSN (Online) 1336-9563, ISSN (Print) 0006-3088, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/s11756-008-0168-y.

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