N-acetylglucosamine is a modified version of glucose
, with an amino group
, substituted with an acetyl (ethanoyl)
group, attached to carbon 2.
It is the basic subunit from which the polysaccharide chitin
, used in arthropod exoskeletons and in some fungal cell walls, is built up.
It is also a component of peptidoglycan (murein) which forms the cell wall of many bacteria. This consists of alternating residues of β-(1,4) linked N-acetylglucosamine and N-acetylmuramic acid, to which a short chain of amino-acids is attached, permitting cross-linking with other strands.