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Why are sugars found predominantly in D-form in biochemistry?

  1. Aug 25, 2012 #1

    My question is in the title :)
    I have just started working on my biochemistry course, and the textbook says that 'all sugars found in food and in the body are in D-form (the L-form can be found in rare cases in some plants and micro-organisms)'. But it doesn't explain why or how...

    Thanks for your help!
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 25, 2012 #2
    The basis for homochirality in biology is still an open one. There have been a number of hypotheses proposed, and are being tested and examined as we speak. I would also note that your question - generally speaking - also applies to the homochirality observed in amino acids.
  4. Aug 25, 2012 #3
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  5. Aug 25, 2012 #4
    Perhaps I am stating the obvious, but biochemical reactions are facilitated by enzymes which act based on the shape of the reactants. If your body has enzymes for D-sugars, L-sugars will be largely excluded from the biochemical pathways.

    I recently heard a NASA astrophysicist speak on homochirality. One suggested mechanism is that circularly polarized light (say, from a pulsar) will interact with one chirality and not the other, causing reactions that leave only the other form intact. He noted that amino acids found on meteorites are present in both forms, buts there is a slight abundance in the L-isomer of some. Other researchers present asserted the excess was significant enough to plausibly explain the preponderance of the L-form amino acids in biology.
  6. Aug 25, 2012 #5
    Thanks everyone for your answers! It's very interesting...
  7. Aug 25, 2012 #6
    Can you post a link to the speech?

    Here are some keywords if you feel like digging into the topic:
    Murichison Meteorite, circularly polarized light, isovaline,Miller/Urey Experiment
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