Book Chapter

Lectin histochemistry: Historical perspectives, state of the art and future directions


Lectins, discovered more than 100 years ago and defined by their ability to selectively recognise specific carbohydrate structures, are ubiquitous in living organisms. Their precise functions are as yet under-explored and incompletely understood but they are clearly involved, through recognition of their binding partners, in a myriad of biological mechanisms involved in cell identity, adhesion, signalling and growth regulation in health and disease. Understanding the complex ‘sugar code’ represented by the ‘glycome’ is a major challenge and at the forefront of current biological research. Lectins have been widely employed in histochemical studies to map glycosylation in cells and tissues. Here, a brief history of the discovery of lectins and early developments in their use is presented along with a selection of some of the most interesting and significant discoveries to emerge from use of lectin histochemistry. Further, an evaluation of the next generation of lectin-based technologies is presented, including the potential for designing recombinant lectins with more precisely defined binding characteristics, linking lectin-based studies with other technologies to answer fundamental questions in glycobiology, and approaches to exploring the interactions of lectins with their binding partners in more detail.

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Brooks, Susan Ann

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Biological and Medical Sciences


Year of publication: 2022
Date of RADAR deposit: 2021-10-27

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Related resources

This RADAR resource is the Accepted Manuscript of Lectin histochemistry: Historical perspectives, state of the art and future directions
This RADAR resource is Part of Histochemistry of single molecules: Methods and protocols [ISBN: 9781071626740] / edited by Carlo Pellicciari, Marco Biggiogera, Manuela Malatesta (Springer, 2022).


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