Osmium-labeled polysaccharides for atomic microscopy

James Resch, David Tunkel, Christian Stoeckert, Michael Beer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


With the objective of localizing cell surface polysaccharides, the reaction of several osmium (VI)-ligand complexes with glycols has been applied to sugar residues in mono- and polysaccharides. The hydrophilic ligands 4,4′-dicarboxy-2,2′-bipyridine and N,N,N′,N′-tetramethylethylenediamine have been employed to produce water-soluble osmate esters of the sugar glycols. Methyl glycosides react with osmium (VI) reagents to give stable products containing one osmium atom per sugar. α-Cyclodextrins, with six glucose residues in a ring, and β-cyclodextrins with seven, can bind up to, but not exceeding three osmium ligand complexes per molecule, indicating possible nearest-neighbor exclusion of reaction among the residues. Reaction of as little as 1% of the sugar residues in amylose with the dicarboxybipyridyl osmate complex allows the amylose strands to be extended on a grid for electron microscopy. Further reaction with the tetramethylethylenediamine osmate complex rapidly saturates the amylose to a level of 0.39 osmium atom per sugar residue, consistent with the nearest-neighbor exclusion hypothesis. High resolution scanning transmission electron microscopy images reveal a row of osmium atoms along each amylose strand.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)673-683
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of molecular biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 25 1980

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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