Encyclopedia of Biophysics

Living Edition
| Editors: Gordon Roberts, Anthony Watts, European Biophysical Societies

Glycosaminoglycan (GAG)

  • Barbara MulloyEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-35943-9_75-1



The glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are linear polysaccharides made up of a disaccharide repeat unit, in which one of the monosaccharides is a hexosamine and the other is either a hexose (in keratan sulfate only) or an uronic acid. Most GAGs exist as the O-linked glycan part of protein glycoconjugates known as proteoglycans and carry sulfate substituents, making them the most acidic class of biological macromolecules. The exception is the GAG hyaluronan (HA), which is not attached to a protein core and is not sulfated.

GAGs are structural components in the extracellular matrix throughout the animal kingdom. Some glycosaminoglycans, through specific interactions with small extracellular proteins, are essential for embryonic development and play roles in the response of the organism to infection and injury. Hyaluronan has a very high molecular weight, and its rheological properties are important to its role in the extracellular...

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Copyright information

© European Biophysical Societies' Association (EBSA) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Glycosciences Laboratory, Department of MedicineImperial College LondonLondonUK

Section editors and affiliations

  • Elizabeth Hounsell
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Biological and Chemical SciencesBirkbeck College, University of LondonLondonUK