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J Biol Chem. 2012 Mar 23;287(13):10602-12. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.317263. Epub 2012 Feb 1.

Bivalent carbohydrate binding is required for biological activity of Clitocybe nebularis lectin (CNL), the N,N'-diacetyllactosediamine (GalNAcβ1-4GlcNAc, LacdiNAc)-specific lectin from basidiomycete C. nebularis.

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  • 1Department of Biotechnology, JoŽef Stefan Institute, Jamova 39, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.


Lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins that exert their biological activity by binding to specific cell glycoreceptors. We have expressed CNL, a ricin B-like lectin from the basidiomycete Clitocybe nebularis in Escherichia coli. The recombinant lectin, rCNL, agglutinates human blood group A erythrocytes and is specific for the unique glycan N,N'-diacetyllactosediamine (GalNAcβ1-4GlcNAc, LacdiNAc) as demonstrated by glycan microarray analysis. We here describe the crystal structures of rCNL in complex with lactose and LacdiNAc, defining its interactions with the sugars. CNL is a homodimeric lectin, each of whose monomers consist of a single ricin B lectin domain with its β-trefoil fold and one carbohydrate-binding site. To study the mode of CNL action, a nonsugar-binding mutant and nondimerizing monovalent CNL mutants that retain carbohydrate-binding activity were prepared. rCNL and the mutants were examined for their biological activities against Jurkat human leukemic T cells and the hypersensitive nematode Caenorhabditis elegans mutant strain pmk-1. rCNL was toxic against both, although the mutants were inactive. Thus, the bivalent carbohydrate-binding property of homodimeric CNL is essential for its activity, providing one of the rare pieces of evidence that certain activities of lectins are associated with their multivalency.

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