A nonenzymatic method for cleaving polysaccharides to yield oligosaccharides for structural analysis

Matthew J. Amicucci, Eshani Nandita, Ace G. Galermo, Juan Jose Castillo, Siyu Chen, Dayoung Park, Jennifer T. Smilowitz, J. Bruce German, David A. Mills, Carlito B. Lebrilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Polysaccharides are the most abundant biomolecules in nature, but are the least understood in terms of their chemical structures and biological functions. Polysaccharides cannot be simply sequenced because they are often highly branched and lack a uniform structure. Furthermore, large polymeric structures cannot be directly analyzed by mass spectrometry techniques, a problem that has been solved for polynucleotides and proteins. While restriction enzymes have advanced genomic analysis, and trypsin has advanced proteomic analysis, there has been no equivalent enzyme for universal polysaccharide digestion. We describe the development and application of a chemical method for producing oligosaccharides from polysaccharides. The released oligosaccharides are characterized by advanced liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC–MS) methods with high sensitivity, accuracy and throughput. The technique is first used to identify polysaccharides by oligosaccharide fingerprinting. Next, the polysaccharide compositions of food and feces are determined, further illustrating the utility of technique in food and clinical studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3963
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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