Structure of bacterial lipopolysaccharides

Carbohydr Res. 2003 Nov 14;338(23):2431-47. doi: 10.1016/j.carres.2003.07.010.


Bacterial lipopolysaccharides are the major components of the outer surface of Gram-negative bacteria They are often of interest in medicine for their immunomodulatory properties. In small amounts they can be beneficial, but in larger amounts they may cause endotoxic shock. Although they share a common architecture, their structural details exert a strong influence on their activity. These molecules comprise: a lipid moiety, called lipid A, which is considered to be the endotoxic component, a glycosidic part consisting of a core of approximately 10 monosaccharides and, in "smooth-type" lipopolysaccharides, a third region, named O-chain, consisting of repetitive subunits of one to eight monosaccharides responsible for much of the immunospecificity of the bacterial cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carbohydrate Conformation
  • Carbohydrate Sequence
  • Fatty Acids / chemistry
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Hydrolysis
  • Lipid A / chemistry
  • Lipids / chemistry
  • Lipopolysaccharides / chemistry*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Monosaccharides / chemistry*
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial / chemistry*


  • Fatty Acids
  • Lipid A
  • Lipids
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Monosaccharides
  • Polysaccharides, Bacterial