Does the “C3 effect” offset the Δ2 effect, as regards the solution flexibility of aldoses?


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The solution flexibility of carbohydrates influences a variety of molecular recognition and regulatory processes. For aldoses and other monosaccharides, this flexibility is dictated by the orientations of the various hydroxyl (OH) groups present, which influences conformer and anomer ratios, interactions among these OH groups, and interactions between them and the surrounding solvent. Depending on the number and position of axial OH groups, a variety of structures can coexist in solutions at equilibrium. In 1950, as part of his pioneering studies on the shape of pyranoside rings, Reeves described the Δ2 effect, the greater destabilization of the pyranose ring conformation when the OH group on carbon 2 (C2) is in the axial position. It was later proposed by Angyal that the Δ2 effect could be cancelled by the presence of an axial OH on C3, termed here the “C3 effect.” Employing size-exclusion chromatography, an entropically-controlled separation technique, we have investigated whether or not the C3 and Δ2 effects indeed do compensate for one another with respect to their influence on the solution flexibility of select aldohexoses and aldopentoses. As will be seen, while qualitatively and semiquantitatively this mutual cancellation of effects does occur in aldohexoses, it does not appear to do so in aldopentoses. An explanation for the latter appears to lie in the variety of anomers and conformers present in equilibrium solutions of those aldopentoses studied and in the relative entropic contribution of individual conformers or anomers to the total solution flexibility. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Biopolymers 101: 703–711, 2014.