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Glycobiology. 2019 Jan 1;29(1):36-44. doi: 10.1093/glycob/cwy084.

A pipeline to translate glycosaminoglycan sequences into 3D models. Application to the exploration of glycosaminoglycan conformational space.

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University Lyon, University Claude Bernard Lyon 1, CNRS, INSA Lyon, CPE, Institute of Molecular and Supramolecular Chemistry and Biochemistry, UMR 5246, Villeurbanne Cedex, France.
SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, Geneva 4, Switzerland.
Department of Computer Science, University of Geneva, Geneva 4, Switzerland.
Centre de Recherches sur les MAcromolécules Végétales, UPR 5301 CNRS, University Grenoble Alpes, Grenoble, France.
Section of Biology, University of Geneva, Geneva 4, Switzerland.


Mammalian glycosaminoglycans are linear complex polysaccharides comprising heparan sulfate, heparin, dermatan sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, keratan sulfate and hyaluronic acid. They bind to numerous proteins and these interactions mediate their biological activities. GAG-protein interaction data reported in the literature are curated mostly in MatrixDB database ( However, a standard nomenclature and a machine-readable format of GAGs together with bioinformatics tools for mining these interaction data are lacking. We report here the building of an automated pipeline to (i) standardize the format of GAG sequences interacting with proteins manually curated from the literature, (ii) translate them into the machine-readable GlycoCT format and into SNFG (Symbol Nomenclature For Glycan) images and (iii) convert their sequences into a format processed by a builder generating three-dimensional structures of polysaccharides based on a repertoire of conformations experimentally validated by data extracted from crystallized GAG-protein complexes. We have developed for this purpose a converter (the CT23D converter) to automatically translate the GlycoCT code of a GAG sequence into the input file required to construct a three-dimensional model.


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