Symbol nomenclature for representing glycan structures: Extension to cover different carbohydrate types

David J. Harvey*, Anthony H. Merry, Louise Royle, Matthew P. Campbell, Pauline M. Rudd

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/opinionpeer-review

    39 Citations (Scopus)


    This Viewpoint article addresses comments made on our original article describing a symbolic system for the depiction of N- and O-linked carbohydrate structures and proposes a method for extending the symbol set to include monosaccharides commonly found in carbohydrates present in bacteria and plants. As before, basic monosaccharides are shown by shape with one or more additions such as solid fill or additions of lines, crosses or dots to represent functional groups. The use of colour to differentiate constituent monosaccharides is avoided, thus enabling the system to be used in a variety of formats. Linkage and anomericity are shown by the angle and type of line connecting the symbols. In this extended version, new symbols are proposed for additional hexoses and it is proposed that pyranose and furanose forms of the monosaccharides could be shown by solid or broken outlines to the symbols. Conventions for depicting the presence of multiple functional groups such as deoxy-(NH2)2 are also discussed. It is hoped that these proposals will stimulate discussion so that a consensus can be reached as to how the glycobiology community can best convey complex information in a simple manner.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)4291-4295
    Number of pages5
    Issue number22
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011


    • Carbohydrates
    • Glycoproteomics
    • Linkage
    • Structure
    • Symbols


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