Montgomery, Rex Department of Biochemistry, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.
- Biological functions
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A carbohydrate composed of a relatively small number (typically 3–20) of monosaccharides linked to each other by glycosidic bonds. Relatively few oligosaccharides are free in nature, such as the trisaccharide raffinose and the tetrasaccharide stachyose. Instead, the large majority of oligosaccharides are attached either to proteins (glycoproteins) or to lipids (glycolipids). The glycoproteins and glycolipids are important components of the cells of living tissues: They are involved in cell-cell communication, they are contained in cell membrane receptors for regulatory factors such as hormones and growth factors, and they are essential for normal development of the organism. See also: Carbohydrate; Cell membranes; Glycoprotein; Glycoside; Lipid; Protein
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