PhD Nest

Membrane Carbohydrate: Types, Structure and Functions

Spread the love

Membrane Carbohydrate

  • Individual cells as well as cellular compartments remain separated by cell membranes, which are selected boundaries.
  • Membranes are made up of binding forces that hold carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids together.
  • Carbohydrates are covalently bonded to proteins or lipids (glycolipids) and are a major constituent of cell membranes, where they serve as cell adhesion as well as address loci.
  • Membranes are described as a fluid lipid bilayer with floating proteins and carbohydrates in the Fluid Mosaic Model.
  • Glycolipids and glycoproteins are chemically linked to membrane carbohydrates.
  • Certain membrane carbohydrates, or else, are part of proteoglycans that inject their amino acid chain between lipid fatty acids.
  • While certain carbohydrates are connected with intracellular membranes, the majority of carbohydrates are found in the plasma membrane’s outer monolayer, that is towards the extracellular area.

Types of Membrane Carbohydrates

Carbohydrate groups are exclusively found on the plasma membrane’s outermost layer and are linked to proteins or lipids to create glycoproteins or glycolipids.


  • The majority of membrane carbohydrates are located in glycoproteins, which are proteins that are connected to carbohydrates.
  • Carbohydrates are in almost all membrane proteins.
  • The large number of the molecule in glycoproteins is made up of proteins; they include one or more oligosaccharides connected to a protein, and they are generally branched and lack serial repeats, thus they are densely packed with information, forming highly specific sites for recognition and highaffinity binding by other proteins.
  • Sugar remains are mixed to the ER and Golgi apparatus lumens, just as glycolipids. As a result, the oligosaccharide chains are indeed found on the membrane’s non-cytosolic side.
  • Endoplasmic reticulum, that generates N-linked sugars, plus the Golgi apparatus, that generates O-linked sugars, are two places in the cell where sugars can really be connected to proteins. A sugar is connected to a nitrogen atom in N-linked glycoproteins, while a sugar is connected to that of an oxygen atom in O-linked glycoproteins. N- and O-linked sugars have diverse roles due to their structural differences.
  • Membrane-bound glycoproteins have a role in a variety of biological processes, such as cell recognition and antigenicity.


  • Glycolipids are membrane lipids with oligosaccharide hydrophilic head groups.
  • Membranes contain three forms of glycolipids: glycosphingolipids, the far more numerous in animal cells, glycoglycerolipids, and glycophosphatidylinositol. Glycoglycerolipids are much more common in plant cell plasma membranes.
  • Glycolipids make up only 5% of the lipids within membranes.
  • Glycolipids, like glycoproteins, serve as specialised locations for carbohydrate-binding proteins to recognise.


  • Proteoglycan molecules are polysaccharide chains found in integral membranes.
  • Proteoglycans are elongated polysaccharide chains that are covalently bonded to a protein core and are primarily located just on the outer surface of the cell in the extracellular matrix.
  • However, the protein core of certain proteoglycans either spans the lipid bilayer or is connected to it via a glycosylphosphotidylinositol (GPI) anchor.

Structure of Membrane Carbohydrate 

Structure of Membrane Carbohydrate 

  • Carbohydrates are found inside the plasma membrane as small, occasionally branched chains of sugars connected to either the polar ends of phospholipid molecules in the outermost lipid layer (forming glycoproteins) or the external peripheral proteins (forming glycoproteins) (forming glycolipids).
  • Carbohydrate chains can really be straight or branched and can contain 2-60 monosaccharide units.
  • D-galactose, D-mannose, L-fucose, N-acetylneuraminic acid (also known as sialic acid), N-acetyl-D-glucosamine, and N-acetyl-D-galactosamine are the six main sugars that make up the oligosaccharide chains of membrane glycoproteins and glycolipids. Glucose can be used to make all of these.
  • The sugar arrangements on the oligosaccharide side chains of glycoproteins and glycolipids vary greatly.
  • However unlike amino acids in a polypeptide chain that are connected by similar peptide bonds, they are very often branched and the sugars can indeed be joined together with a number of covalent connections.
  • Hundreds of distinct trisaccharides can be made from just three sugars.
  • Oligosaccharides are particularly well-suited to specific cell-recognition processes because of their diversity and exposed position upon the cell surface.

How to increase Brain Power – Secrets of Brain Unlocked

Membrane Carbohydrate Functions

  • Membrane carbohydrates provide two main functions: they assist in cell recognition and adhesion, and also cell-cell signalling and pathogen exchange, plus they act as a structural barrier.
  • The cell surface carbohydrates of erythrocytes define blood types, and they can also induce immunological responses.
  • Endothelial cells close to the wounded tissue depict a kind of protein called as selectins inside their plasma membranes after an infection. They identify as well as attach carbohydrates on lymphocytes’ plasma membranes as they travel through the bloodstream. Lymphocytes connect to the blood artery walls in this way, allowing them to cross the endothelium and travel towards the infection site.
  • Carbohydrates have an essential role as recognition molecules throughout embryonic development.
  • Upon infection, microorganisms use carbohydrates in the plasma membrane to recognise and bind to them.
  • In humans, the glycocalyx plays a vital role. It allows cells on the inside of blood vessels to withstand the tremendous pressure of liquid that flows over their surfaces.
  • The glycocalyx guards microvilli inside the stomach that take up nutrients, and it also facilitates in the breaking down of foodstuff for assimilation by storing digestive enzymes inside its cover.
  • Glycoproteins include plasma trans­port proteins, hormones, plus enzymes, and carbohydrate plays a key role in physiological activity within those molecules.


Membrane Carbohydrate Citations 




Related Posts

Spread the love

Leave a Comment