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Capacity for information in biological molecules is traditionally thought to reside in the primary sequence of proteins and RNA, recorded in the DNA. With the exception of some RNA molecules, proteins, if not structural, carry their information in binding sites for substrates of reactions, or in binding sites for control molecules. Some proteins bind to complex carbohydrates in a carbohydrate-specific fashion, including enzymes, lectins and antibodies. These carbohydrates, assembled by sequential glycosyl transferases, also carry biological information, the other side of which is a binding protein that recognizes a specific sugar monosaccharides, sequence, anomerity, linkage, ring size, branching and substitution. It is the latter 7 parameters, however, that give carbohydrates a very large potential for information-carrying capacity in a short sequence. An exponentially growing body of knowledge exists in this aspect of carbohydrate function.

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Pure and Applied Chemistry

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