Springer Nature is making Coronavirus research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

The role of lectins in plant defence

  • 299 Accesses

  • 103 Citations

Summary

Recent progress in the search for the physiological role of plant lectins supports the idea that some of these proteins are involved in the defence mechanisms of the plant. To place the evidence in favour of such a defensive role in a broad perspective, a short overview is given of the most important plant pathogens and predators. In addition, the solutions that plants have developed to resist the continuous threat of a hostile environment are briefly discussed in relation to the protective role of proteins in general. The presumed involvement of plant lectins in defence mechanisms is first inferred from an analysis of the biochemical, physiological, cellular biological and molecular biological properties of plant lectins. Subsequently, the available experimental evidence for the involvement of lectins in the plant's defence against viruses, bacteria, fungi and herbivorous invertebrates and vertebrates is discussed in some detail. Since the defensive role of plant lectins is determined largely by their ability to recognize and bind foreign glycans, a brief discussion is given of how the basically protective properties of these proteins can be exploited for histochemical applications in biological and biomedical research.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Ajouba, A., Causse, H., Van Damme, E. j. M., Peumans, W. J., Cambillau, C. & Rouge, P. (1994) Interactions of plant lectins with the components of the bacterial cell wall peptidoglycan. Biochem. Syst. EcoL. 22, 153–59.

  2. Allen, A. D. (1983) Potato lectin — a glycoprotein with two domains. In Chemical taxonomy, Molecular Biology, and Function of Plant Lectins (edited by Goldstein, I. J. & Etzler, M. E.), pp. 71–85. New York: Alan R. Liss.

  3. Balasubramaniam, N. K., Czapla, T. H. & Rao, G. (1991) Structural and functional changes associated with cyanogen bromide treatment of wheat germ agglutinin. Arch. Biochem. BiophyS. 288, 374–9.

  4. Balzarini, J., Schols, D., Neyts, J., Van Damme, E., Peumans, W. & De Clercq, E. (1991) α-(1–3)- and α-(1–6)-D-mannose-specific plant lectins are markedly inhibitory to human immunodeficiency virus and cytomegalovirus infections in vitro. Antimicrob. Agents ChemotheR. 35, 410–6.

  5. Balzarini, J., Neyts, J., Schols, D., Hosoya, M., Van Damme, E., Peumans, W. K., De Clercq, E. (1992) The mannose-specific plant lectins from Cymbidium hybrid and Epipactis helleborine and the (N-acetylglucosamine)n-specific plant lectin from Urtica dioica are potent and selective inhibitors of human immunodeficiency virus and cytomegalovirus replication in vitro. Antiviral ReS. 18, 191–207.

  6. Barbieri, L., Batelli, G. B. & Stirpe, F. (1993) Ribosomeinactivating proteins from plants. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 1154, 237–82.

  7. Beintema, J. J. & Peumans, W. J. (1992) The primary structure of stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) agglutinin: a two-domain member of the hevein family. FEBS LetT. 299, 131–4.

  8. Bohlmann, H., Clausen, S., Behnke, S., Giese, H., Hiller, C., Reihmann-philipp, U., Schrader, G., Barkholt, V. & Apel, K. (1988) Leaf-specific thionins of barley: a novel class of wall proteins toxic to plantpathogenic fungi and possibly involved in the defense mechanisms of plants. EMBO J. 7, 1559–65.

  9. Boulter, D. (1986) Isolation of genes involved in pest and disease resistance. In Biomolecular Engineering in the European Community (edited by Magnien, E.), pp. 715–25. Boston: Martinus Nijhoff.

  10. Boulter, D., Edwards, G. A., Gatehouse, A. m. R., Gatehouse, J. A. & Hilder, V. A. (1990) Additive protective effects of different plant-derived insect resistance genes in transgenic tobacco plants. Crop ProtecT. 9, 351–4.

  11. Broekaert, W. F. & Peumans, W. J. (1986) Lectin release from seeds of Datura stramonium and interference of the Datura stramonium lectin with bacterial motility. In Lectins, Biology, Biochemistry, Clinical Biochemistry (edited by Bog-Hansen, T. C. & Van Driessche, E.), Vol. 5, pp. 57–65. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & CO.

  12. Broekaert, W. F., Lambrechts, D., Verbelen, J.-P. & Peumans, W. J. (1988) Datura stramonium agglutinin. Location in the seed and release upon imbibition. Plant PhysioL. 86, 569–74.

  13. Broekaert, W. F., Van Parijs, J., Leyns, F., Joos, I. & Peumans, W. J. (1989) A chitin-binding lectin from stinging nettle rhizomes with antifungal properties. Science 245, 1100–2.

  14. Broekaert, W. F., Marien, W., Terras, F. R. G., De Bolle, M. F. C., Proost, P., Van Damme, J., Dillen, L., Claeys, M., Rees, S. B., Vanderleyden, J. & Cammue, B. p. A. (1992) Antimicrobiol peptides from Amaranthus caudatus seeds with sequence homology to the cysteine/glycine-rich domain of chitin-binding proteins. Biochemistry 31, 4308–14.

  15. Broglie, K., Chet, I., Holliday, M., Cressman, R., Biddle, P., Knowlton, S., Mauvais, C. J. & Broglie, R. (1991) Transgenic plants with enhanced resistance to the fungal pathogen Rhizoctonia solani. Science 254, 1194–7.

  16. Cammue, B., Peeters, B. & Peumans, W. J. (1985) Isolation and partial characterization of an N-acetylgalactosamine-specific lectin from winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) root tubers. Biochem. J. 227, 949–55.

  17. Cammue, B. P., Peeters, B. & Peumans, W. J. (1986) A new lectin from tulip bulbs. Planta 169, 583–8.

  18. Collinge, D. B., Kragh, K. M., Mikkelsen, J. D., Nielsen, K. K., Rasmussen, U. & Vad, K. (1993) Plant chitinases. Plant J. 3, 31–40.

  19. Cornelissen, B. J. & Melchers, L. S. (1993) Strategies for control of fungal diseases with transgenic plants. Plant PhysioL. 101, 709–12.

  20. Czapla, T. I. & Lang, B. A. (1990) Effect of plant lectins on the larval development of European corn borer (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) and southern corn rootworm (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). J. Econ. EntomoL. 83, 2480–5.

  21. De Wit, P. j. g. M. (1992) Molecular characterization of gene- for-gene systems in plant-fungus interactions and the application of avirulence genes in control of plant pathogens. Annu. Rev. PhytopathoL. 30, 391–418.

  22. Dixon, R. A. (1986) The phytoalexin response: elicitation, signalling and control of host gene expression. Biol. ReV. 61, 239–91.

  23. Endo, Y. (1989) Mechanism of action of ricin and related toxic lectins on the inactivation of eukaryotic ribosomes. In Advances in Lectin Research (edited by Franz, I.), Vol. 2, pp. 60–73. Berlin: VEB Verlag.

  24. Etzler, M. E. (1986) Distribution and function of plant lectins. In The Lectins: Properties, Functions and Applications in Biology and Medicine (edited by Liener, I. E., Sharon, N. K. & Goldstein, I. J.), pp. 371–435. New York: Academic Press.

  25. Franz, I. (1989) Viscaceae lectins. In Advances in Lectin Research (edited by Franz, I.), Vol. 2, pp. 28–59. Berlin: VEB Verlag.

  26. Gabriel, D. W. & Rolfe, B. G. (1990) Working models of specific recognition in plant-microbe interactions. Annu. Rev. PhytopathoL. 28, 365–91.

  27. Gatehouse, A. M. R., Dewey, F. M., Dove, J., Fenton, K. A. & Pusztai, A. (1984) Effect of seed lectins from Phaseolus vulgaris on the development of larvae of Callosobruchus maculatus; mechanism of toxicity. J. Sci. Food AgriC. 35, 373–80.

  28. Gatehouse, A. M. R., Barbieri, L., Stirpe, F. & Croy, R. r. D. (1990) Effects of ribosome inactivating proteins on insect development - differences between Lepidoptera and Coleoptera. Entomol. Exp. AppL. 54, 43–51.

  29. Gatehouse, A. m. R., Howe, D. S., Flemming, J. E., Hilder, V. A. & Gatehouse, J. A. (1991) Biochemical basis of insect resistance in winged bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus) seeds. J. Sci. Food AgriC. 55, 63–74.

  30. Gatehouse, A. M. R., Powell, K. S., Van Damme, E. J. M., Peumans, W. J. & Gatehouse, J. A. (1995) Insecticidal properties of plant lectins: their potential in plant protection. In Lectins, Biomedical Perspectives (edited by Puszati, A.), Francis & Taylor (in press).

  31. Goldstein, I. J. & Poretz, R. D. (1986) Isolation, physicochemical characterization and carbohydratebinding specificity of lectins. In The Lectins: Properties, Functions, and Applications in Biology and Medicine (edited by Liener, I. E., Sharon, N. & Goldstein, I. J.), pp. 33–248. New York: Academic Press.

  32. Greenwood, J. S., Stinissen, H. M., Peumans, W. J. & Chrispeels, M. J. (1986) Sambucus nigra agglutinin is located in protein bodies in the phloem parenchyma of bark. Planta 167, 275–8.

  33. Huesing, J. E., Shade, R. E., Chrispeels, M. J. & Murdock, L. L. (1991a) α-Amylase inhibitor, not phytohemagglutinin, explains resistance of common bean seeds to cowpea weevil. Plant PhysioL. 96, 993–6.

  34. Huesing, J. E., Murdock, L. L. & Shade, R. E. (1991b) Effect of wheat germ isolectins on development of cowpea weevil. Phytochemistry 30, 785–8.

  35. Huesing, J. E., Murdock, L. L. & Shade, R. E. (1991c) Rice and stinging nettle lectins: insecticidal activity similar to wheat germ agglutinin. Phytochemistry 30, 3565–8.

  36. Janzen, D. I., Juster, H. B. & Liener, I. E. (1976) Insecticidal action of the phytohemagglutinin in black beans on a bruchid beetle. Science 192, 795–6.

  37. Kaku, I., Peumans, W. J. & Goldstein, I. J. (1990) Isolation and characterization of a second lectin (SNA-II) present in elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.) bark. Arch. Biochem. biophyS. 277, 255–62.

  38. Knibbs, R., Goldstein, I. J., Ratcliff, R. M. & Shibuya, N. (1991) Characterization of the carbohydrate binding specificity of the leukoagglutinating lectin from Maackia amurensis. J. Biol. CheM. 266, 83–8.

  39. Kumar, M. A., Timms, D. E., Neet, K. E., Owen, W. G., Peumans, W. J. & Rao, A. G. (1993) Characterization of the lectin from the bulbs of Eranthis hyemalis (winter aconite) as an inhibitor of protein synthesis. J. Biol. CheM. 268, 25176–83.

  40. Lamb, C. J., Lawton, M. A., Dorn, M. & Dixon, R. A. (1989) Signals and transduction mechanisms for activation of plant defenses against microbiol attack. Cell 56, 215–24.

  41. Leah, R., Tommerup, I., Svedsen, I. & Mundy, J. (1991) Biochemical and molecular characterization of three barley seed proteins with antifungal properties. J. Biochem. CheM. 266, 1564–73.

  42. Liener, I. E. (1986) Nutritional significance of lectins in the diet. In The Lectins: Properties, Functions, and Applications in Biology and Medicine (edited by Liener, I. E., Sharon, N. & Goldstein, I. J.), pp. 527–52. New York: Academic Press.

  43. Linthorst, H. j. M. (1991) Pathogenesis-related proteins of plants. Crit. Rev. Plant ScI. 102, 123–50.

  44. Lord, M. (1985) Synthesis and intracellular transport of lectin and storage protein precursors in endosperm from castor bean. Eur. J. BiocheM. 146, 403–9.

  45. Maddock, S. E., Huffman, G., Isenhour, D. J., Roth, B. A., Raikhel, N. V., Howard, J. A. & Czapla, T. H. (1991) Expression in maize plants of wheat germ agglutinin, a novel source of insect resistance. Third International Congress for Plant Molecular Biology, Tucson, AZ, USA, abstract No. 372.

  46. Mirelman, D., Galun, E., Sharon, N. & Lotan, R. (1975) Inhibition of fungal growth by wheat germ agglutinin. Nature 256, 414–6.

  47. Mishkind, M., Keegstra, K. & Palevitz, V. (1980) Distribution of wheat germ agglutinin in young wheat plants. Plant PhysioL. 66, 950–5.

  48. Mishkind, M., Raikhel, N. V., Palevitz, B. A. & Keegstra, K. (1982) Immunocytochemical localization of wheat germ agglutinin in wheat. J. Cell. BioL. 92, 753–64.

  49. Mishkind, M., Palevitz, B., Raikhel, N. V. & Keegstra, K. (1983) Localization of wheat germ agglutinin-like lectins in various species of the Gramineae. Science 220, 1290–2.

  50. Moreno, J. & Chrispeels, M. J. (1989) A lectin gene encodes the α-amylase inhibitor of the common bean. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 86, 7885–9.

  51. Moreno, J., Altabella, T. & Chrispeels, M. J. (1990) Characterization of α-amylase-inhibitor, a lectin-like protein in the seeds of Phaseolus vulgaris. Plant PhysioL. 92, 703–9.

  52. Murdock, L. L., Huesing, J. E., Nielsen, S. S., Pratt, R. C. & Shade, R. E. (1990) Biological effects of plant lectins on the cowpea weevil. Phytochemistry 29, 85–9.

  53. Nsimba-Lubaki, M. & Peumans, W. J. (1986) Seasonal fluctuations of lectin in bark of elderberry (Sambucus nigra) and black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia). Plant PhysioL. 80, 747–51.

  54. Nsimba-Lubaki, M., Allen, A. K. & Peumans, W. J. (1986) Isolation and characterization of glycoprotein lectins from the bark of three species of elder, Sambucus ebulus, Sambucus nigra and Sambucus racemosa. Planta 168, 113–8.

  55. Osborn, T. C., Sun, A. d. C., Cardona, S. s. M. & Bliss, F. A. (1988) Insecticidal activity and lectin homology of arcelin seed protein. Science 240, 207–10.

  56. Peumans, W. J., De Ley, M. & Broekaert, W. F. (1984a) An unusual lectin from stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) rhizomes. FEBS LetT. 177, 99–103.

  57. Peumans, W. J., Nsimba-lubaki, M., Carlier, A. R. & Van Driessche, E. (1984b) A lectin from Bryonia dioica root stocks. Planta 160, 222–8.

  58. Peumans, W. J., Nsimba-Lubaki, M., Peeters, B. & Broekaert, W. F. (1985) Isolation and partial characterization of a lectin from Aegopodium podagraria rhizomes. Planta 164, 75–82.

  59. Peumans, W. J., Nsimba-Lubaki, M., Broekaert, W. F. & Van Damme, E. J. M. (1986) Are bark lectins of elderberry (Sambucus nigra) and black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) storage proteins? In Molecular Biology of Seed Storage Proteins and Lectins (edited by Shannon, L. M. & Chrispeels, M. J.), pp. 53–63. Proceedings of the 9th Annual Symposium in Plant Physiology, UCR Riverside.

  60. Powell, K. S., Gatehouse, A. m. R., Hilder, V. A. & Gatehouse, J. A. (1993) Antimetabolic effects of plant lectins and plant and fungal enzymes on the nymphal stages of two important rice pests, Nilaparvata lugens and Nephotettix cinciteps. Entomol. Exp. AppL. 66, 119–26.

  61. Pratt, R. C., Singh, N. K., Shade, R. E., Murdock, L. L. & Bressan, R. A. (1990) Isolation and partial characterization of a seed lectin from tepary bean that delays bruchid beetle development. Plant PhysioL. 93, 1453–9.

  62. Pusztai, A. (1986) The role in food poisoning of toxins and allergens from higher plants. In Developments in Food Microbiology (edited by Robinson, R. K.), pp. 179–94. London: Elsevier Applied Science Publishers.

  63. Pusztai, A. (1991) Plant Lectins. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  64. Pusztai, A., Clarke, E. m. W. & King, T. P. (1979) The nutritional toxicity of Phaseolus vulgaris lectins. Proc. Nutr. SoC. 38, 115–20.

  65. Pusztai, A., Ewen, S. w. B., Grant, G., Peumans, W. J., Van Damme, E. j. M., Rubio, L. & Bardocz, S. (1990) The relationship between survival and binding of plant lectins during small intestine passage and their effectiveness as growth factors. Digestion 46, 308–16.

  66. Pusztai, A., Ewen, S. w. B., Grant, G., Peumans, W. J., Van Damme, E. j. M., Rubio, L. A. & Bardocz, S. (1991) Plant (food) lectins as signal molecules: Effects on the morphology and bacterial ecology of the small intestine. In Lectin Reviews (edited by Kilpatrick, D. C., Van Driessche, E. & Bog-Hansen, T. C.), Vol. 1, pp. 1–15. St Louis, USA: Sigma Chemical CO.

  67. Pusztai, A., Ewen, S. w. B., Grant, G., Brown, D. S., Peumans, W. J., Van Damme, E. J. M. & Bardocz, S. (1992) Stimulation of growth and polyamine accretion in the small intestine and pancreas by lectins and trypsin inhibitors. In Polyamines in the Gastrointesinal Tract (edited by Dowling, R. I., Folsch, U. R. & Loser, C.), Dordrecht: Falk symposium Ser. No. 62, pp. 473–83. Kluwer Academic Publishers.

  68. Pusztai, A., Ewen, S. w. B., Grant, G., Brown, D. S., Stewart, J. C., Peumans, W. J., Van Damme, E. j. M. & Bardocz, S. (1993a) Antinutritive effects of wheat germ agglutinin and other N-acetylglucosamine specific lectins. Br. J. NutriT. 70, 313–21.

  69. Pusztai, A., Grant, G., Spencer, R. J., Duguid, T. J., Brown, D. S., Ewen, S. w. B., Peumans, W. J., Van Damme, E. j. M. & Bardocz, S. (1993b) Kidney bean lectin-induced Escherichia coli overgrowth in the small intestine is blocked by GNA, a mannose-specific lectin. J. Appl. BacterioL. 75, 360–8.

  70. Rüdiger, I. (1988) Preparation of plant lectins. In Advances in Lectin Research (edited by Frantz, I.), Vol. 1, pp. 26–72. Berlin: VEB Verlag.

  71. Ryan, C. A. (1990) Protease inhibitors in plants: genes for improving defenses against insects and pathogens. Annu. Rev. PhytopathoL. 28, 426–49.

  72. Sandhu, R. S., Arora, J. S., Chopra, S. K., Pelia, S. S., Kamboj, S. S., Naidu, Y. C. & Nath, I. (1990) New sources of lectins from Araceous Indian plants. In Lectins, Biology, Biochemistry, Clinical Biochemistry (edited by Kocourek, J. & Freed, D. l. J.), Vol. 7, pp. 19–26, St Louis, USA: Sigma Chemical CO.

  73. Schlumbaum, A., Mauch, F., Vogeli, U. & Boller, T. (1986) Plant chitinases are potent inhibitors of fungal growth. Nature 324, 365–7.

  74. Sequeira, L. & Graham, T. L. (1977) Agglutination of avirulent strains of Pseudomonas solanacearum by potato lectin. Physiol. Plant PathoL. 11, 43–54.

  75. Shibuya, N., Goldstein, I. J., Broekaert, W. F., Nsimba-Lubaki, M., Peeters, B. & Peumans, W. J. (1987) The elderberry (Sambucus nigra) bark lectin recognizes the Neu5Ac (α2–6)Gal/GalNac sequence. J. Biol. CheM. 262, 1596–601.

  76. Shotwell, M. A. & Larkins, B. A. (1989) The biochemistry and molecular biology of seed storage proteins. In The Biochemistry of Plants (edited by Stumpf, P. K. & Conn, E. E.), pp. 297–345. New York: Academic Press.

  77. Van Damme, E. j. M. & Peumans, W. J. (1989) Developmental changes and tissue distribution of lectin in Tulipa. Planta 178, 10–8.

  78. Van Damme, E. j. M. & Peumans, W. J. (1990) Developmental changes and tissue distribution of lectin in Galanthus nivalis L. and Narcissus Cv. Carlton. Planta 182, 605–9.

  79. Van Damme, E. j. M., Allen, A. K. & Peumans, W. J. (1987) Isolation and characterization of a lectin with exclusive specificity towards mannose from snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) bulbs. FEBS LetT. 215, 140–4.

  80. Van Damme, E. j. M., Goldstein, I. J. & Peumans, W. J. (1991) Comparative study of related mannose-binding lectins from Amaryllidaceae and Alliaceae species. Phytochemistry 30, 509–14.

  81. Van Driessche, E. (1988) Structure and function of leguminosae lectins. In Advances in Lectin Research (edited by Franz, I.), Vol. 1, pp. 73–134. Berlin: VEB Verlag.

  82. Van Parijs, J., Broekaert, W. F., Goldstein, I. J. & Peumans, W. J. (1991) Hevein: an antifungal protein from rubber-tree (Hevea brasiliensis) latex. Planta 183, 258–62.

  83. Van Parijs, J., Joosen, H. M., Peumans, W. J., Geuns, J. M. & Van Laere, A. J. (1992) Effect of the lectin UDA (Urtica dioica agglutinin) on germination and cell wall formation of Phycomyces blakesleeanus Burgeff. Arch. MicrobioL. 158, 19–25.

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Peumans, W.J., Van Damme, E.J.M. The role of lectins in plant defence. Histochem J 27, 253–271 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00398968

Download citation

Keywords

  • Defence Mechanism
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Protective Role
  • Biological Property
  • Physiological Role