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Identification and Quantification of Glycans in Whole Cells: Architecture of Microalgal Polysaccharides Described by Solid-State Nuclear Magnetic Resonance

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posted on 2021-11-04, 20:29 authored by Alexandre Poulhazan, Malitha C. Dickwella Widanage, Artur Muszyński, Alexandre A. Arnold, Dror E. Warschawski, Parastoo Azadi, Isabelle Marcotte, Tuo Wang
Microalgae are photosynthetic organisms widely distributed in nature and serve as a sustainable source of bioproducts. Their carbohydrate components are also promising candidates for bioenergy production and bioremediation, but the structural characterization of these heterogeneous polymers in cells remains a formidable problem. Here we present a widely applicable protocol for identifying and quantifying the glycan content using magic-angle-spinning (MAS) solid-state NMR (ssNMR) spectroscopy, with validation from glycosyl linkage and composition analysis deduced from mass-spectrometry (MS). Two-dimensional 13C–13C correlation ssNMR spectra of a uniformly 13C-labeled green microalga Parachlorella beijerinckii reveal that starch is the most abundant polysaccharide in a naturally cellulose-deficient strain, and this polymer adopts a well-organized and highly rigid structure in the cell. Some xyloses are present in both the mobile and rigid domains of the cell wall, with their chemical shifts partially aligned with the flat-ribbon 2-fold xylan identified in plants. Surprisingly, most other carbohydrates are largely mobile, regardless of their distribution in glycolipids or cell walls. These structural insights correlate with the high digestibility of this cellulose-deficient strain, and the in-cell ssNMR methods will facilitate the investigations of other economically important algae species.

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