Molecular Structure of Glycogen in Escherichia coli

Liang Wang, Qinghua Liu, Xinle Tan, Ziyi Wang, Mengmeng Wang, Michael J. Wise, Chengcheng Li, Chao Ma, Enpeng Li, Bin Deng, Yan Du, Daoquan Tang, Robert G. Gilbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Glycogen, a randomly branched glucose polymer, provides energy storage in organisms. It forms small β particles which in animals bind to form composite α particles, which give better glucose release. Simulations imply β particle size is controlled only by activities and sizes of glycogen biosynthetic enzymes and sizes of polymer chains. Thus, storing more glucose requires forming more β particles, which are expected to sometimes form α particles. No α particles have been reported in bacteria, but the extraction techniques might have caused degradation. Using milder glycogen extraction techniques on Escherichia coli, transmission electron microscopy and size-exclusion chromatography showed α particles, consistent with this hypothesis for α-particle formation. Molecular density and size distributions show similarities with animal glycogen, despite very different metabolic processes. These general polymer constraints are such that any organism which needs to store and then release glucose will have similar α and β particle structures: a type of convergent evolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2821-2829
Number of pages9
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2019


Dive into the research topics of 'Molecular Structure of Glycogen in Escherichia coli'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this