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Biochem J. 1990 Feb 1;265(3):831-40.

Topography of the combining region of a Thomsen-Friedenreich-antigen-specific lectin jacalin (Artocarpus integrifolia agglutinin). A thermodynamic and circular-dichroism spectroscopic study.

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  • 1Molecular Biophysics Unit, U.G.C. Centre of Advanced Studies, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.


Thermodynamic analysis of carbohydrate binding by Artocarpus integrifolia (jackfruit) agglutinin (jacalin) shows that, among monosaccharides, Me alpha GalNAc (methyl-alpha-N-acetylgalactosamine) is the strongest binding ligand. Despite its strong affinity for Me alpha GalNAc and Me alpha Gal, the lectin binds very poorly when Gal and GalNAc are in alpha-linkage with other sugars such as in A- and B-blood-group trisaccharides, Gal alpha 1-3Gal and Gal alpha 1-4Gal. These binding properties are explained by considering the thermodynamic parameters in conjunction with the minimum energy conformations of these sugars. It binds to Gal beta 1-3GalNAc alpha Me with 2800-fold stronger affinity over Gal beta 1-3GalNAc beta Me. It does not bind to asialo-GM1 (monosialoganglioside) oligosaccharide. Moreover, it binds to Gal beta 1-3GalNAc alpha Ser, the authentic T (Thomsen-Friedenreich)-antigen, with about 2.5-fold greater affinity as compared with Gal beta 1-3GalNAc. Asialoglycophorin A was found to be about 169,333 times stronger an inhibitor than Gal beta 1-3GalNAc. The present study thus reveals the exquisite specificity of A. integrifolia lectin for the T-antigen. Appreciable binding of disaccharides Glc beta 1-3GalNAc and GlcNAc beta 1-3Gal and the very poor binding of beta-linked disaccharides, which instead of Gal and GalNAc contain other sugars at the reducing end, underscore the important contribution made by Gal and GalNAc at the reducing end for recognition by the lectin. The ligand-structure-dependent alterations of the c.d. spectrum in the tertiary structural region of the protein allows the placement of various sugar units in the combining region of the lectin. These studies suggest that the primary subsite (subsite A) can accommodate only Gal or GalNAc or alpha-linked Gal or GalNAc, whereas the secondary subsite (subsite B) can associate either with GalNAc beta Me or Gal beta Me. Considering these factors a likely arrangement for various disaccharides in the binding site of the lectin is proposed. Its exquisite specificity for the authentic T-antigen, Gal beta 1-3GalNAc alpha Ser, together with its virtual non-binding to A- and B-blood-group antigens, Gal beta 1-3GalNAc beta Me and asialo-GM1 should make A. integrifolia lectin a valuable probe for monitoring the expression of T-antigen on cell surfaces.

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