Morris, Gordon, de al Torre, J. G., Ortega, A., Castile, J., Smith, A. and Harding, S. E. (2008) Molecular flexibility of citrus pectins by combined sedimentation and viscosity analysis. Food Hydrocolloids, 22 (8). pp. 1435-1442. ISSN 0268-005X

The flexibility/rigidity of pectins plays an important part in their structure-function relationship and therefore on their commercial applications in the food and biomedical industries. Earlier studies based on sedimentation analysis in the ultracentrifuge have focused on molecular weight distributions and qualitative and semi-quantitative descriptions based on power law and Wales-van Holde treatments of conformation in terms of "extended" conformations [Harding, S. E., Berth, G., Ball, A., Mitchell, J.R., & Garcìa de la Torre, J. (1991). The molecular weight distribution and conformation of citrus pectins in solution studied by hydrodynamics. Carbohydrate Polymers, 168, 1-15; Morris, G. A., Foster, T. J., & Harding, S.E. (2000). The effect of degree of esterification on the hydrodynamic properties of citrus pectin. Food Hydrocolloids, 14, 227-235]. In the present study, four pectins of low degree of esterification 17-27% and one of high degree of esterification (70%) were characterised in aqueous solution (0.1 M NaCl) in terms of intrinsic viscosity [η], sedimentation coefficient (s°20,w) and weight average molar mass (Mw). Solution conformation/flexibility was estimated qualitatively using the conformation zoning method [Pavlov, G.M., Rowe, A.J., & Harding, S.E. (1997). Conformation zoning of large molecules using the analytical ultracentrifuge. Trends in Analytical Chemistry, 16, 401-405] and quantitatively (persistence length Lp) using the traditional Bohdanecky and Yamakawa-Fujii relations combined together by minimisation of a target function. Sedimentation conformation zoning showed an extended coil (Type C) conformation and persistence lengths all within the range Lp=10-13 nm (for a fixed mass per unit length).

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