A survey of the presence and compositions of carbohydrate chains attached to pancreatic ribonucleases is given. Carbohydrate chains may occur at asparagine residues in Asn-X-Ser/Thr sequences at four exposed sites of the molecule (positions 21, 34, 62, and 76). These sites form part of highly variant sequences in pancreatic ribonucleases with the consequence that the enzymes from very closely related species may differ in the presence or absence of carbohydrate. In a number of ribonucleases Asn-X-Ser/Thr sequences occur which carry carbohydrate in only a part of the molecules. The occurrence of Asn-X-Ser/Thr sequences entirely without any carbohydrate also has been demonstrated.
Compositions of the carbohydrate moieties of ribonucleases from cow, sheep, pig, whales, giraffe, okapi, moose, horse, coypu, chinchilla, and guinea-pig are presented. Striking differences in complexity have been found, both between chains attached to the same site in different species (cow and giraffe), between chains attached to different sites of the same enzyme in one-species (pig) and even between chains attached to the same site in a single species (chinchilla).