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Phytochemistry. 2005 Aug;66(15):1817-24.

Conformation and mobility of the arabinan and galactan side-chains of pectin.

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  • 1Chemistry Department, Glasgow University, Glasgow G12 8QQ, Scotland, UK.


The function of the arabinan and galactan side-chains of pectin remains unknown. We describe 13C NMR experiments designed to yield spectra from the most mobile polymer components of hydrated cell walls isolated from a range of plant species. In pectin-rich cell walls, these corresponded to the pectic side-chains. The arabinan side-chains were in general more mobile than the galactans, but the long galactan side-chains of potato pectin showed high mobility. Due to motional line-narrowing effects these arabinan and galactan chains gave 13C NMR spectra of higher resolution than has previously been observed from 'solid' biopolymers. These spectra were similar to those reported for the arabinan and galactan polymers in the solution state, implying time-averaged conformations resembling those found in solution. The mobility of the highly esterified galacturonan in citrus cell walls overlapped with the lower end of the mobility range characteristic of the pectic side-chains. The cellulose-rich cell walls of flax phloem fibres gave spectra of low intensity corresponding to mobile type II arabinogalactans. Cell walls from oat coleoptiles appeared to contain no polymers as mobile as the pectic arabinans and galactans in primary cell walls of the other species examined. These properties of the pectic side-chains suggest a role in interacting with water.

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