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QUESTION

What does alpha acetal linkage mean?

An alpha acetal linkage is a glycoside linkage that points in the opposite direction to the "CH"_2"OH" group.

Let's begin by defining terms.

An acetal is a functional group formed when an aldehyde reacts with an alcohol to form a functional group with two ether groups on the same carbon.

The term "alpha acetal" usually refers to carbohydrates and their derivatives.

In the cyclic form of a carbohydrate, the anomeric carbon is the carbon that was the carbonyl carbon in the acyclic form.

Notice that the "OH" on the anomeric carbon can be "up" or "down" (more on this later).

A glycosidic linkage is the bond that forms when the hemiacetal "OH" of the anomeric carbon reacts with another alcohol group to form an acetal.

For example,

The "OH" group could come from another carbohydrate, For example,

If the glycoside linkage points "down" (i.e., in a direction opposite to the "CH"_2"OH" group), it is called an alpha acetal or an alpha glycoside linkage.