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J Mol Biol. 2008 May 23;379(1):146-59. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2008.03.062. Epub 2008 Apr 3.

Structural basis for chitotetraose coordination by CGL3, a novel galectin-related protein from Coprinopsis cinerea.

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  • 1Institute of Microbiology, ETH Zürich, Wolfgang-Pauli-Str. 10, CH-8093 Zürich, Switzerland.


Recent advances in genome sequencing efforts have revealed an abundance of novel putative lectins. Among these, many galectin-related proteins, characterized by many conserved residues but intriguingly lacking critical amino acids, have been found in all corners of the eukaryotic superkingdom. Here we present a structural and biochemical analysis of one representative, the galectin-related lectin CGL3 found in the inky cap mushroom Coprinopsis cinerea. This protein contains all but one conserved residues known to be involved in beta-galactoside binding in galectins. A Trp residue strictly conserved among galectins is changed to an Arg in CGL3 (R81). Accordingly, the galectin-related protein is not able to bind lactose. Screening of a glycan array revealed that CGL3 displays preference for oligomers of beta1-4-linked N-acetyl-glucosamines (chitooligosaccharides) and GalNAc beta 1-4GlcNAc (LacdiNAc). Carbohydrate-binding affinity of this novel lectin was quantified using isothermal titration calorimetry, and its mode of chitooligosaccharide coordination not involving any aromatic amino acid residues was studied by X-ray crystallography. Structural information was used to alter the carbohydrate-binding specificity and substrate affinity of CGL3. The importance of residue R81 in determining the carbohydrate-binding specificity was demonstrated by replacing this Arg with a Trp residue (R81W). This single-amino-acid change led to a lectin that failed to bind chitooligosaccharides but gained lactose binding. Our results demonstrate that, similar to the legume lectin fold, the galectin fold represents a conserved structural framework upon which dramatically altered specificities can be grafted by few alterations in the binding site and that, in consequence, many metazoan galectin-related proteins may represent lectins with novel carbohydrate-binding specificities.

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