that contain a single aldehyde or ketone functional group. They aresubdivided into two classes
on the basis of whether they are aldehydes or ketones. They are also classified as a triose,tetrose, pentose, hexose, or heptose on the basis of whether they containthree, four, five, six, or seven carbon atoms.With only one exception, the monosaccharides are optically activecompounds. Although both D and L isomers are possible, most of themonosaccharides found in nature are in the D configuration. Structures forthe D and L isomer of the simplest aldose, glyceraldehyde, are shown below.D-Glyceraldehyde L-Glyceraldehyde
The Basic Structure of Monosaccharides
The structures of many monosaccharides were first determined byEmil Fischer in the 1880s and 1890s and are still written accordingto a convention he developed. The Fischer projection representswhat the molecule would look like if its three-dimensional structurewere projected onto a piece of paper. By convention, Fischerprojections are written vertically, with the aldehyde or ketone at thetop. The -OH group on the second-to-last carbon atom is written onthe right side of the skeleton structure for the D isomer and on theleft for the L isomer. Fischer projections for the two isomers of glyceraldehyde are shown below.D-GlyceraldehydeL-Glyceraldehyde
These Fischer projections can be obtained from the skeletonstructures shown above by imaging what would happen if youplaced a model of each isomer on an overhead projector so that theCHO and CH
OH groups rested on the glass and then looked at theimages of these models that would be projected on a screen.