Many plants contain sugar-binding proteins commonly known as lectins, designated as carbohydrate-binding proteins of non-immune origin that specifically recognize diverse sugar structures and mediate a variety of biological process (Vijayan & Chandra, 1999
Plant lectins (Peumans & Van Damme, 1995
), especially those purified from species of the Leguminosae family, represent the most well studied group of carbohydrate-binding proteins (Van Damme et al.
). Lectins from the Diocleinae subtribe demonstrate a high degree of similarity. Despite being highly analogous, they present significant differences in many biological activities, such as induction of rat paw oedema (Bento et al.
), peritoneal macrophage spreading in mouse (Rodriguez et al.
), pro- and anti-inflammatory effects (Alencar et al.
; Assreuy et al.
), capacity for induction of histamine release (Gomes et al.
; Ferreira et al.
), induction of apoptosis (Barbosa et al.
), induction of NO production (Andrade et al.
), various renal effects (Havt et al.
), mitogenicity (Barral-Neto et al.
) and induction of in vitro
and in vivo
cytokine production (Cavada et al.
Despite some minor differences in their primary and three-dimensional structures, it remains clear that this group of proteins diverge considerably in many biological properties, which makes them an excellent model for the study of structure–function relationships (Cavada et al.
; Moreno et al.
The lectin ConM was obtained from Canavalia maritima
, commonly known as the bay bean, sand bean, beach bean or MacKenzie bean. ConM is a 25.5 kDa protein with 237 residues per monomer. Like other legume lectins, ConM posseses a high amino-acid sequence similarity to the well known concanavalin A (ConA) from C. ensiformis
, reaching up to 90% identity (Perez et al.
The present work reports the crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction analysis of a lectin from C. maritima
seeds, a protein that has previously been purified (Perez et al.
), tested for histamine-releasing properties in rat peritoneal mast cells (Gomes et al.
) and has had its affinity for several monosaccharides determined (Ramos et al.