Application of plant-derived food lectins in proteoglycomics and immunomodulation
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Lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins that discriminate sugars based on subtle difference in structure. The biological role of intracellular lectins has not been completely elucidated yet; however, it is known that lectins exposed on the cell membrane are involved in various biological processes: cell-to-cell communication, cell migration, and the lectin pathway of complement activation. The functional significance of carbohydrates, particularly those attached to proteins, has been determined in health investigations and imposed structural investigations on lectins, as well as by their application in research and medicine. Considerable knowledge gained on the structure and carbohydrate specificity of plant lectins established them as a good tool for profiling carbohydrate structures present on cell-surfaces. A lectin microarray approach rapidly evaluates the carbohydrate composition on the surface of intact cells, and provides means to elucidate the dynamic role of sugars in biolog...ical systems. The importance of protein glycosylation has been implicated in designing novel therapeutic approaches in certain diseases. Due to their unique carbohydrate specificity, besides being applicable in deciphering the structural diversity of carbohydrates, plant lectins exhibit modulatory potential on the immune system. Certain plant lectins are prone to induce immune response upon oral feeding. Therefore, a search for novel immunostimulatory molecules and adjuvants, in order to enhance or to direct an appropriate immune response against target immunogens, has been a major and recurrent issue in vaccine development.
- Handbook of Nutritional Biochemistry: Genomics, Metabolomics, and Food Supply