Journal Article

Lectins as versatile tools to explore cellular glycosylation


Lectins are naturally occurring carbohydrate-binding proteins that are ubiquitous in nature and highly selective for their, often incompletely characterised, binding partners. From their discovery in the late 1880s to the present day, they have provided a broad palette of versatile tools for exploring the glycosylation of cells and tissues and for uncovering the myriad functions of glycosylation in biological systems. The technique of lectin histochemistry, used to map the glycosylation of tissues, has been instrumental in revealing the changing profile of cellular glycosylation in development, health and disease. It has been especially enlightening in revealing fundamental alterations in cellular glycosylation that accompany cancer development and metastasis, and has facilitated the identification of glycosylated biomarkers that can predict prognosis and may have utility in development of early detection and screening, Moreover, it has led to insights into the functional role of glycosylation in healthy tissues and in the processes underlying disease. Recent advances in biotechnology mean that our understanding of the precise binding partners of lectins is improving and an ever-wider range of lectins are available, including recombinant human lectins and lectins with enhanced, engineered properties. Moreover, use of traditional histochemistry to support a broad range of cutting-edge technologies and the development of high throughout microarray platforms opens the way for ever more sophisticated mapping – and understanding – of the glycome.

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Brooks, Susan A.

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Biological and Medical Sciences


Year of publication: 2024
Date of RADAR deposit: 2024-01-18

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

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