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Glycobiology. 2004 Dec;14(12):1247-63. Epub 2004 Aug 25.

A database analysis of jacalin-like lectins: sequence-structure-function relationships.

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Bioinformatics Centre, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560 012, India.


Lectins are known to be important for many biological processes, due to their ability to recognize cell surface carbohydrates with high specificity. Plant lectins have been model systems to study protein-carbohydrate recognition, because individually they exhibit high sensitivity and as a group large diversity in recognizing carbohydrate structures. Although extensive studies have been carried out for legume lectins that have led to interesting insights into the sequence determinants of sugar recognition in them, frameworks with such specific correlations are not available for other plant lectin families. This study reports a large-scale data acquisition and extensive analysis of sequences and structures of beta-prism-I or jacalin-related lectins (JRLs) and shows that hypervariability in the binding site loops generates carbohydrate recognition diversity, a strategy analogous to that in legume lectins. Analyses of the size, conformation, and sequence variability in key regions reveal the existence of a common theme, encoded as a set of structural features over a common scaffold, in defining specificity. This study also points to the remarkable range of domain architectures, often arising out of gene duplication events in lectins of this family. The data analyzed here also indicate a spectacular variety of quaternary associations possible in this family of lectins that have implications for glycan recognition. These results thus provide sequence-structure-function correlations, an understanding of the molecular basis of carbohydrate recognition by beta-prism-I lectins, and also a rationale for engineering specific recognition capabilities in relevant molecules.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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