Structural Biochemistry/Carbohydrates/Sequencing Oligosaccharides using glycosidases

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"Sequencing" an Oligosaccharide

Sequencing an Oligosaccharideinvolves identifying its structure. The most common method in doing so uses enzymes that cleave oligosaccharides at certain linkage points. The first step is to remove it from the protein it is attached to. From this point, the oligosaccharide can be isolated and the mass can be found using mass spectrometric techniques such as MALDI-TOF (Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Time-of-Flight). Unfortunately, since many possible oligosaccharide structures exist within a given mass. A better analysis can be obtained by further decomposing the oligosaccharide into smaller pieces using specific enzymes. The decomposition and analysis of the pieces of the oligosaccharide can be repeated as many times as possible or needed to find the structure of the oligosaccharide.