Although lectins are "hard-wired" in the germline, the presence of tandemly arrayed carbohydrate recognition domains (CRDs), of chimeric structures displaying distinct CRDs, of polymorphic genes resulting in multiple isoforms, and in some cases, of a considerable recognition plasticity of their carbohydrate binding sites, significantly expand the lectin ligand-recognition spectrum and lectin functional diversification. Analysis of structural/functional aspects of galectins and F-lectins-the most recently identified lectin family characterized by a unique CRD sequence motif (a distinctive structural fold) and nominal specificity for l-Fuc-has led to a greater understanding of self/nonself recognition by proteins with tandemly arrayed CRDs. For lectins with a single CRD, however, recognition of self and nonself glycans can only be rationalized in terms of protein oligomerization and ligand clustering and presentation. Spatial and temporal changes in lectin expression, secretion, and local concentrations in extracellular microenvironments, as well as structural diversity and spatial display of their carbohydrate ligands on the host or microbial cell surface, are suggestive of a dynamic interplay of their recognition and effector functions in development and immunity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- History and Philosophy of Science