Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Structure. 1999 Oct 15;7(10):1223-33.

High-resolution structure of the conger eel galectin, congerin I, in lactose-liganded and ligand-free forms: emergence of a new structure class by accelerated evolution.

Author information

  • 1Department of Biotechnology and Biomaterial Chemistry Graduate School of Engineering, Nagoya University, Chikusa-Ku, Nagoya, 464-8603, Japan.



Congerin I is a member of the galectin (animal beta-galactoside-binding lectin) family and is found in the skin mucus of conger eel. The galectin family proteins perform a variety of biological activities. Because of its histological localization and activity against marine bacteria and starfish embryos, congerin I is thought to take part in the eels' biological defense system against parasites.


The crystal structure of congerin I has been determined in both lactose-liganded and ligand-free forms to 1. 5 A and 1.6 A resolution, respectively. The protein is a homodimer of 15 kDa subunits. Congerin I has a beta-sheet topology that is markedly different from those of known relatives. One of the beta-strands is exchanged between two identical subunits. This strand swap might increase the dimer stability. Of the known galectin complexes, congerin I forms the most extensive interaction with lactose molecules. Most of these interactions are substituted by similar interactions with water molecules, including a pi-electron hydrogen bond, in the ligand-free form. This observation indicates an increased affinity of congerin I for the ligand.


The genes for congerin I and an isoform, congerin II, are known to have evolved under positive selection pressure. The strand swap and the modification in the carbohydrate-binding site might enhance the cross-linking activity, and should be the most apparent consequence of positive selection. The protein has been adapted to functioning in skin mucus that is in direct contact with surrounding environments by an enhancement in cross-linking activity. The structure of congerin I demonstrates the emergence of a new structure class by accelerated evolution under selection pressure.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Support Center