Structure and function of carbohydrates

Published on April 19, 2020 Reviewed on November 27, 2022   42 min

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Greetings. Welcome to this Principles of Biochemistry lecture series. My name is Jerry Feigenson. I am a Professor in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Cornell University in the USA. In the 12th lecture, you learned some basic properties of biological lipids and biological membranes. You saw a great variety in the two chain lipids that create the bi-layer with the plasma membrane also containing a large fraction of cholesterol. About one-third of all proteins are membrane bound and we looked at some fascinating properties of membranes, including bi-layer phase behaviors and bi-layer fission and fusion.
In this lesson, you will learn the carbohydrate basic structure is amazingly simple, carbon H_2O. You will see typical five or six member ring structure, which enables many different types of linkages in carbohydrate polymers. The range of polymer structures is very large and those structures are very difficult for researchers to determine. We are going to see three basic roles of carbohydrates. There's an energy role for glucose storage in plants and animals. There is a structural role for carbohydrate polymers, and we look at two examples proteoglycans and cellulose. And then we will see this very interesting role of carbohydrates to be recognized at the surface of cells.