The Polysaccharide reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Polysaccharide

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Polysaccharides are relatively complex "unsweet" carbohydrates. Polysaccharides are polymers made up of many monosaccharides joined together (hence poly-saccharides). They are therefore very large, often branched, molecules. Properties include insolubility in water and not forming crystals. Examples include starch, cellulose, and glycogen.

Structure

Polysaccharides have the general formula:

-[Cx(H2O)y)]n-

where y is generally = x - 1.

Table of contents
1 Starches
2 Glycogen
3 Cellulose
4 Acidic polysaccharides

Starches

Starches are polymers of glucose in which glucopyranose units are bonded by beta-linkages. Amylose consists of a linear chain of several hundred of glucose molecules. Amylopectine is a branched molecule made of several thousand of glucose units.
Starches are insoluble in water. They can be digested by hydrolysis catalyzed by enzymes called amylases, which can break the beta-linkages. Humans and other animals have amylases, so they can digest starches. Potato, rice, wheat, and maize are major sources of starch in the human diet.

Glycogen

Glycogen is the storage form of glucose in animals. It is a branched polymer of glucose. Glycogen can be broken down to form substrates for respiration, through the process of glycogenolysis. This involves the breaking of most of the C-O-C bonds between the glucose molecules by the addition of a phosphate, rather than a water as in hydrolysis. This process yields phosphorylated glucose molecules, which can be metabolized with a savings of one ATP molecule.

Cellulose

The structural components of plants are formed primarily from cellulose. Wood is largely cellulose and lignin, while paper and cotton are nearly pure cellulose. Cellulose is a polymer made with repeated glucose units bonded together by alpha-linkages. Humans and many other animals lack an enzyme to break the alpha-linkages, so they do not digest cellulose. Certain animals can digest cellulose, because the enzyme is present.

Acidic polysaccharides

Acidic polysaccharides are a group of polysaccharides that contain carboxyl groups and/or sulfuric ester groups.