Schizophyllan, a water-soluble beta-D-glucan elaborated by Schizophyllum commune Fries, was partially depolymerized by ultrasonic irradiation to a low-molecular-weight polysaccharide, designated "sonic-degraded schizophyllan". Both native and degraded polysaccharides exhibited essentially the same antitumor activities against Sarcoma-180 ascites. Both glucans are comprised solely of D-glucose residues and have a main chain of (1 leads to 3)-beta-D-glucopyranosyl residues, one out of three glucose residues being attached as single, (1 leads to 6)-beta-D-glucopyranosyl groups. Although both glucans have similar structural features, significant differences are observed in such physical properties as molecular weight and intrinsic viscosity. End-group analysis by using radioisotope-labeled glucans suggests that ultrasonic degradation occurs mainly by cleavage of glycosidic bonds of the main chain of schizophyllan. The molecular weights of the native and sonic-degraded schizophyllan were shown to be 75% of those of corresponding, original schizophyllan preparations, suggesting that there is no anomalous linkage sensitive to periodate oxidation, and ultrasonic irradiation may cause random hydrolysis of (1 leads to 3)-beta-D-glucosidic linkages in the main chain.
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