Sialic acid-specific lectins: occurrence, specificity and function
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- Lehmann, F., Tiralongo, E. & Tiralongo, J. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. (2006) 63: 1331. doi:10.1007/s00018-005-5589-y
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Sialic acids consist of a family of acidic ninecarbon sugars that are typically located at the terminal positions of a variety of glycoconjugates. Naturally occurring sialic acids show an immense diversity of structure, and this reflects their involvement in a variety of biologically important processes. One such process involves the direct participation of sialic acids in recognition events through specific interactions with lectins, a family of proteins that recognise and bind sugars. This review will present a detailed overview of our current knowledge regarding the occurrence, specificity and function of sialic acid-specific lectins, particularly those that occur in viruses, bacteria and non-vertebrate eukaryotes.