Use of Lectins for the Study of Membranes

  • Nathan Sharon
  • Halina Lis


For many years it has been known that plant extracts possess the ability to agglutinate erythrocytes (Bird, 1959, Boyd, 1963; Sharon and Lis, 1972). It was recognized quite early that this agglutination is the result of the specific interaction of certain proteins found in the extracts with sugars on the surface of erythrocytes (Sumner and Howell, 1936). However, the vast possibilities which these proteins, presently known as lectins, open for the study of cell surfaces and membranes in general are only now being appreciated (Sharon and Lis, 1972; Burger, 1973; Lis and Sharon, 1973). This has occurred simultaneously with the growing recognition of the important role that sugars located on the cell surface play in the life of cells (Roseman, 1970; Winzler, 1970; Ginsburg and Kobata, 1971; Ashwell and Morell, 1974). Although sugars comprise only a small proportion (2–10%) of the weight of the cellular membrane, they are believed to provide cells with recognition patterns, give them individuality, and play a decisive role in the “social life” of the cell. Any reagent which is specific for sugars on surfaces is therefore an important aid for cell biologists.


Human Erythrocyte Receptor Site Wheat Germ Agglutinin Lima Bean Hemagglutinating Activity 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathan Sharon
    • 1
  • Halina Lis
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiophysicsThe Weizmann Institute of ScienceRehovotIsrael

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