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Lieth, Claus-Wilhelm von der; Siebert, H. C.; Kozár, T.; Burchert, M.; Frank, M.; Gilleron, M.; Kaltner, Herbert; Kayser, G.; Tajkhorshid, Emad; Bovin, N. V.; Vliegenthart, JFG; Gabius, Hans-Joachim (1998): Lectin ligands: New insights into their conformations and their dynamic behavior and the discovery of conformer selection by lectins. In: Acta Anatomica, No. 1-4: pp. 91-109


The mysteries of the functions of complex glycoconjugates have enthralled scientists over decades. Theoretical considerations have ascribed an enormous capacity to store information to oligosaccharides, In the interplay with lectins sugar-code words of complex carbohydrate structures can be deciphered. To capitalize on knowledge about this type of molecular recognition for rational marker/drug design, the intimate details of the recognition process must be delineated, To this aim the required approach is garnered from several fields, profiting from advances primarily in X-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and computational calculations encompassing molecular mechanics, molecular dynamics and homology modeling. Collectively considered, the results force us to jettison the preconception of a rigid ligand structure. On the contrary, a carbohydrate ligand may move rather freely between two or even more low-energy positions, affording the basis for conformer selection by a lectin. By an exemplary illustration of the interdisciplinary approach including up-to-date refinements in carbohydrate modeling it is underscored why this combination is considered to show promise of fostering innovative strategies in rational marker/drug design.