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García Caballero, Gabriel, Beckwith, Donella, Shilova, Nadezhda V., Gabba, Adele, Kutzner, Tanja J., Ludwig, Anna-Kristin, Manning, Joachim C., Kaltner, Herbert, Sinowatz, Fred, Cudic, Mare, Bovin, Nicolai V., Murphy, Paul V. and Gabius, Hans-Joachim (2020): Influence of protein (human galectin-3) design on aspects of lectin activity. In: Histochemistry and Cell Biology, Vol. 154: pp. 135-153 [PDF, 6MB]


The concept of biomedical significance of the functional pairing between tissue lectins and their glycoconjugate counterreceptors has reached the mainstream of research on the flow of biological information. A major challenge now is to identify the principles of structure–activity relationships that underlie specificity of recognition and the ensuing post-binding processes. Toward this end, we focus on a distinct feature on the side of the lectin, i.e. its architecture to present the carbohydrate recognition domain (CRD). Working with a multifunctional human lectin, i.e. galectin-3, as model, its CRD is used in protein engineering to build variants with different modular assembly. Hereby, it becomes possible to compare activity features of the natural design, i.e. CRD attached to an N-terminal tail, with those of homo- and heterodimers and the tail-free protein. Thermodynamics of binding disaccharides proved full activity of all proteins at very similar affinity. The following glycan array testing revealed maintained preferential contact formation with N-acetyllactosamine oligomers and histo-blood group ABH epitopes irrespective of variant design. The study of carbohydrate-inhibitable binding of the test panel disclosed up to qualitative cell-type-dependent differences in sections of fixed murine epididymis and especially jejunum. By probing topological aspects of binding, the susceptibility to inhibition by a tetravalent glycocluster was markedly different for the wild-type vs the homodimeric variant proteins. The results teach the salient lesson that protein design matters: the type of CRD presentation can have a profound bearing on whether basically suited oligosaccharides, which for example tested positively in an array, will become binding partners in situ. When lectin-glycoconjugate aggregates (lattices) are formed, their structural organization will depend on this parameter. Further testing (ga)lectin variants will thus be instrumental (i) to define the full range of impact of altering protein assembly and (ii) to explain why certain types of design have been favored during the course of evolution, besides opening biomedical perspectives for potential applications of the novel galectin forms.

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