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Symbolic Representation of Monosaccharides in the Age of Glycobiology

Serge Perez


This chapter offers a general background for students embarking in glycoscience to grasp an essential component of the field, i.e. the alphabet of the building blocks that constitute the many naturally occurring glycans and complex carbohydrates. There is a need to conform to the recommendations of nomenclatures of carbohydrates whilst the constraints required by the developing field of glycobiology in terms of visualization and encoding. The present chapter offers a unified presentation of the nomenclature and symbols that form part of the “language” used to communicate more effectively. It covers about 150 monosaccharides which have been identified as the building blocks of a vast majority of bioactive glycans. A standardization in drawing glycan structures, essential for effective communication, has been adopted (Varki et al., 2015). It is referred to as Symbol Nomenclature For Glycans (SNFG)
The depiction of the 75 monosaccharides is presented below. Use of these symbols to represent monosaccharides is strongly recommended for all manuscripts submitted to major journals and other publications.

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[1Note : The first version of this article was published online on Glycopedia on September 2013