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Biochimie. 2001 Jul;83(7):645-51.

Mannose-binding plant lectins: different structural scaffolds for a common sugar-recognition process.

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Institut de Pharmacologie et de Biologie Structurale, UMR-CNRS 5089, 205, route de Narbonne, 31077 Toulouse cedex 4, France.


Mannose-specific lectins are widely distributed in higher plants and are believed to play a role in recognition of high-mannose type glycans of foreign micro-organisms or plant predators. Structural studies have demonstrated that the mannose-binding specificity of lectins is mediated by distinct structural scaffolds. The mannose/glucose-specific legume (e.g., Con A, pea lectin) exhibit the canonical twelve-stranded beta-sandwich structure. In contrast to legume lectins that interact with both mannose and glucose, the monocot mannose-binding lectins (e.g., the Galanthus nivalis agglutinin or GNA from bulbs) react exclusively with mannose and mannose-containing N-glycans. These lectins possess a beta-prism structure. More recently, an increasing number of mannose-specific lectins structurally related to jacalin (e.g., the lectins from the Jerusalem artichoke, banana or rice), which also exhibit a beta-prism organization, were characterized. Jacalin itself was re-defined as a polyspecific lectin which, in addition to galactose, also interacts with mannose and mannose-containing glycans. Finally the B-chain of the type II RIP of iris, which has the same beta-prism structure as all other members of the ricin-B family, interacts specifically with mannose and galactose. This structural diversity associated with the specific recognition of high-mannose type glycans highlights the importance of mannose-specific lectins as recognition molecules in higher plants.

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