Lectincarbohydrate interactions

Lectins combine with carbohydrates by a network of hydrogen bonds and hydrophobic interactions; coordination with metal ions may also play a role. In general, the combining sites of lectins within a family-are structurally similar, bur are quite different in different families. For instance, legume lectins, irrespective of their specificity, bind ligands through a constellation of three invariant combining site residues, an aspartic acid, an asparagine and an aromatic amino acid. In the rat mannose-binding protein, a calcium ion serves as the nucleus of the combining site, forming direct bonds with the carbohydrate. Additional bonds are provided by two glutamic acid and two asparagine residues (Figure 2).

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