National Center for
4PIT: Crystal Structure of Banana Lectin H84T bound to dimannose
Cell (2015) 163 p.746-758
A key effector route of the Sugar Code involves lectins that exert crucial regulatory controls by targeting distinct cellular glycans. We demonstrate that a single amino-acid substitution in a banana lectin, replacing histidine 84 with a threonine, significantly reduces its mitogenicity, while preserving its broad-spectrum antiviral potency. X-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy, and glycocluster assays reveal that loss of mitogenicity is strongly correlated with loss of pi-pi stacking between aromatic amino acids H84 and Y83, which removes a wall separating two carbohydrate binding sites, thus diminishing multivalent interactions. On the other hand, monovalent interactions and antiviral activity are preserved by retaining other wild-type conformational features and possibly through unique contacts involving the T84 side chain. Through such fine-tuning, target selection and downstream effects of a lectin can be modulated so as to knock down one activity, while preserving another, thus providing tools for therapeutics and for understanding the Sugar Code.