Molecular dynamics studies of side chain effect on the β-1,3-D-glucan triple helix in aqueous solution

Tadashi Okobira, Kentaro Miyoshi, Kazuya Uezu, Kazuo Sakurai, Seiji Shinkai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)


β-1,3-D-Glucans have been isolated from fungi as right-handed 61 triple helices. They are categorized by the side chains bound to the main triple helix through β-(1→6)-D-glycosyl linkage. Indeed, since a glucose-based side chain is water soluble, the presence and frequency of glucose-based side chains give rise to significant variation in the physical properties of the glucan family. Curdlan has no side chains and self-assembles to form an water-insoluble triple helical structure, while schizophyllan, which has a 1,6-D-glucose side chain on every third glucose unit along the main chain, is completely water soluble. A thermal fluctuation in the optical rotatory dispersion is observed for the side chain, indicating probable co-operative interaction between the side chains and water molecules. This paper documents molecular dynamics simulations in aqueous solution for three models of the β-1,3-D-glucan series: curdlan (no side chain), schizophyllan (a β-(1→6)-D-glycosyl side-chain at every third position), and a hypothetical triple helix with a side chain at every sixth main-chain glucose unit. A decrease was observed in the helical pitch as the population of the side chain increased. Two types of hydrogen bonding via water molecules, the side chain/main chain and the side chain/side chain hydrogen bonding, play an important role in determination of the triple helix conformation. The formation of a one-dimensional cavity of diameter about 3.5 Å was observed in the schizophyllan triple helix, while curdlan showed no such cavity. The side chain/side chain hydrogen bonding in schizophyllan and the hypothetical β-1,3-D-glucan triple helix could cause the tilt of the main-chain glucose residues to the helix.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)783-788
Number of pages6
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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