Types and Function of Oligosaccharides

Types of Oligosaccharides


These are the sugars having two monomeric units, and thus it is called di_saccharide. Some examples are maltose, sucrose, and lactose. Maltose is the action of an enzyme and it gives glucose +glucose; Sucrose (or cane sugar) in the action of invertase produces fructose + glucose, and Lactose(milk sugar) in the action of enzyme lactase produces galactose + glucose.


These contain three monomers like raffinose.


These contain four monomeric units like stachyose.


Cell Recognition

All the cells are coated either in glycolipids or glycoproteins, both of which help determine the cell types. Proteins or lectins that bind carbohydrates may recognize the particular oligosaccharides and provide some useful information for cell recognition depending on the oligosaccharide binding.

An important example of oligosaccharide cell recognition is given as the role of glycolipids in blood type determining. Various blood types are distinguished by the modification of glycan that is present on the surface of blood cells. These may be visualized using mass spectrometry. The oligosaccharides that are found on the A, B, and H antigens take place on the non-reducing ends of the oligosaccharide. The H antigen (that indicates an O blood type) serves as a precursor for both the A and B antigens.

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