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Phytomedicine. 2009 Jun;16(6-7):594-600. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2008.12.016. Epub 2009 Feb 4.

Musa acuminata (Del Monte banana) lectin is a fructose-binding lectin with cytokine-inducing activity.

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Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong, China.


A homodimeric, fructose-binding lectin was isolated from Del Monte bananas by using a protocol that involved ion-exchange chromatography on DEAE-cellulose and SP-Sepharose, and gel filtration by fast protein liquid chromatography on Superdex 75. Not only fructose, but also glucose, mannose, rhamnose and glucosamine could inhibit the lectin. The N-terminal amino acid sequence of its identical 15-kDa subunits was similar to lectins from other Musa species except for the deletion of the N-terminal glycine residue in Del Monte banana lectin. The hemagglutinating activity was stable up to 80 degrees C and also stable in the range pH 1-13. However, the hemagglutinating activity dwindled to an undetectable level at 90 degrees C. The lectin was capable of eliciting a mitogenic response in murine splenocytes and inducing the expression of the cytokines interferon-gamma, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and interleukin-2 in splenocytes. The lectin also inhibited proliferation of leukemia (L1210) cells and hepatoma (HepG2) cells and the activity of HIV-1 reverse transcriptase. The additional information obtained in the present study includes demonstration of fructose-binding activity and cytokine-inducing activity of Del Monte banana lectin. Fructose binding is an unusual characteristic of plant lectins. It is possible that the banana lectin can be developed into a useful anti-HIV, immunopotentiating and antitumor agent in view of its trypsin stability and thermostability.

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