Okra pods are commonly used in Asia as a vegetable, food ingredient, as well as a traditional medicine for many different purposes; for example, as diuretic agent, for treatment of dental diseases and to reduce/prevent gastric irritations. The healthy properties are suggested to originate from the high polysaccharide content of okra pods, resulting in a highly viscous solution with a slimy appearance when okra is extracted with water. In this study, we present a structural characterisation of all major cell wall polysaccharides originating from okra pods. The sequential extraction of okra cell wall material yielded fractions of soluble solids extractable using hot buffer (HBSS), chelating agent (CHSS), dilute alkaline (DASS) and concentrated alkaline (CASS). The HBSS fraction was shown to be rich in galactose, rhamnose and galacturonic acid in the ratio 1.3:1:1.3. The degree of acetylation is relatively high (DA = 58) while the degree of methyl esterification is relatively low (DM = 24). The CHSS fraction contained much higher levels of methyl esterified galacturonic acid residues (63% galacturonic acid; DM = 48) in addition to minor amounts of rhamnose and galactose. The ratio of galactose to rhamnose to galacturonic acid was 1.3:1.0:1.3 and 4.5:1.0:1.2 for HBSS and CHSS, respectively. These results indicated that the HBSS and CHSS fractions contain rhamnogalacturonan type I next to homogalacturonan, while the latter is more prevailing in CHSS. Also the DASS fraction is characterised by high amounts of rhamnose, galactose, galacturonic acid and some arabinose, indicating that rhamnogalacturonan I elements with longer arabinose- and galactose-rich side chains were part of this fraction. Partial digestion of HBSS and CHSS by pectin methyl esterase and polygalacturonase resulted in a fraction with a lower Mw and lower viscosity in solution. These samples were subjected to NMR analysis, which indicated that, in contrast to known RG I structure, the acetyl groups in HBSS are not located on the galacturonic acid residues, while for CHSS only part of the acetyl groups are located on the RG I galacturonic acid residues. The CASS fraction consisted of XXXG-type xyloglucan and 4-methylglucuronoxylan as shown by their sugar (linkage) composition and enzymatic digestion.
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Sengkhamparn, N., Verhoef, R. P., Schols, H. A., Sajjaanantakul, T., & Voragen, A. G. J. (2009). Characterisation of cell wall polysaccharides from okra (Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench). Carbohydrate Research : an international journal, 344(14), 1824-1832. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.carres.2008.10.012