Re: Glucosamine Sulphate Staining

From:John Kiernan <>

>Is there a stain that can detect glucosamine sulphate?
Does this mean a sulphate salt of glucosamine (analogous to
ammonium sulphate) or a half sulphate ester? In either case
the compound will be very soluble in water. Glucosamine
is oxidizable to an aldehyde by periodic acid, so in theory
it is potentially PAS-positive. A half sulphate-ester group
would bind basic dyes at pH 1. However, the aminosugar would
be dissolved by the first aqueous solution applied to it, so
there could be no staining.

N-acetylated aminosugars, such as those in cartilage, mucus
etc, are PAS-negative but can be specifically stained with
labelled lectins. For example, tomato lectin will bind to 
beta-N-acetylglucosamine, and soybean lectin binds to alpha-
and beta-N-acetylgalactosaminyl groups. I do not know of any
lectin with specific affinity for glucosamine. Lectin
affinities are not as simple as this paragraph might apply,
and various controls are needed to establish specificity.

John A. Kiernan,
Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology,
The University of Western Ontario,
London,  Canada  N6A 5C1

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