Characterization of glycogen molecular structure in the worm Caenorhabditis elegans


Glycogen, a glucose homopolymer with many glucose chains, is the primary blood-sugar reservoir in many organisms. It comprises β particles (∼20 nm) which can bind together to form large α particles with a rosette morphology. When dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is added to glycogen from diabetic livers, α particles break apart to β particles (‘fragility’), possibly due to H-bond disruption; this is not seen in healthy livers. Glycogen α and β particles, and α-particle fragility, are observed in mammals and bacteria, and are examined here in the worm Caenorhabditis elegans, with glycogen from two C. elegans strains, cultured in normal and high-glucose conditions. There were mainly β particles, with some large α particles. Most particles were fragile in DMSO. Growing in a high-glucose medium results in more long chains and more fragility, consistent with previous observations in diabetic animal models. Why high glucose levels facilitate fragility is worthy of further investigation.

Keywords: GlycogenMolecular structureFragilityChain length distributionC. elegans

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