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Recent NMR studies of the exchangeable protons of GAGs in aqueous solution, including those of the amide, sulfamate, and hydroxyl moieties, have demonstrated potential for the detection of intramolecular hydrogen bonds, providing insights into secondary structure preferences. GAG amide protons are observable by NMR over wide pH and temperature ranges; however, specific solution conditions are required to reduce the exchange rate of the sulfamate and hydroxyl protons and allow their detection by NMR. Building on the vast body of knowledge on detection of hydrogen bonds in peptides and proteins, a variety of methods can be used to identify hydrogen bonds in GAGs including temperature coefficient measurements, evaluation of chemical shift differences between oligo- and monosaccharides, and relative exchange rates measured through line shape analysis and EXSY spectra. Emerging strategies to allow direct detection of hydrogen bonds through heteronuclear couplings offer promise for the future. Molecular dynamic simulations are important in this effort both to predict and confirm hydrogen bond donors and acceptors.


Consuelo N Beecher, Cynthia K Larive. Methods for measuring exchangeable protons in glycosaminoglycans. Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.). 2015;1229:173-87

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PMID: 25325953

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