In my biochemistry course I have to know about various polysaccharides and variants, and I am struggling with remembering them. I think it would help if I could break down their names.

For 'glycosaminoglycan' i think

-glycan just refers to the fact that it is a polysaccharide. Some, but not all polysaccharides have glycan in their name, e.g. glycogen vs amylase and amylopectin

-amino means there is an amino group somewhere in there?

That's all I can think of...

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Find a booklet about chemical nomenclature, I used to get one for free as a scientific bookshop. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemical_nomenclature I am sure there are also plenty websites with catalogs of this. $\endgroup$
    – skymningen
    Dec 14, 2016 at 12:02
  • $\begingroup$ There is a specific method for drawing a molecule based on it's named components. Organic Chemistry generally requires that you understand the main nomenclature, look for videos on it if you need different infos. $\endgroup$ Dec 15, 2016 at 8:13

1 Answer 1


Glycosamines (or amino-sugars) are monosaccharide derivatives with an amino group substituting the hydroxyl group at second carbon. Glycosaminoglycans (GAG) usually contain repeats of a disaccharide unit one of the component of which is an amino sugar. GAGs are not strictly polymers of amino sugar monomers as the name might misleadingly suggest.


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