Interactions of Lectins with Embryonic Cell Surfaces

This chapter discusses the interactions of lectins with embryonic cell surfaces. It summarizes the information on various lectins and their sugar-binding specificity deals with the information gained through the study of the interactions of lectins with gametes. The chapter describes how lectins are being used to examine the cell surface changes that occur during development in a variety of systems. The cell surface plays an important role in morphogenesis and malignancy. Carbohydrate-containing molecules make up a part of the surface of the cells. The oligosaccharide chains of glycoproteins, glycolipids, and polysaccharides reach away from the cell surface. These sugar chains, therefore, are likely the candidates for mediating initial cell-cell surface interactions. Lectins, which are proteins or glycoproteins, usually isolated from the seeds of plants and other material bind to the cell surface sugar chains. Each lectin preferentially binds to certain terminal sugars or groups of sugars on these chains. Lectins, therefore, are useful tools for studying the surfaces of adult, embryonic, and malignant cells.