Wheat Germ Agglutinin: Functions

 Prikl Biokhim Mikrobiol. 2004 Nov-Dec;40(6):675-9.


[Change in lectin specificity of winter wheat seedlings in the course of infection with mycoplasms]

[Article in Russian]

Trifonova TVMaksiutova NNTimofeeva OAChernov VM.

The activity of soluble lectins in leaves and roots of seedlings of winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) cultivar Mironovskaya 808 increased 1 day and 2 days, respectively, after infection with the mycoplasma Acholeplasma laidlawii 118. Analysis of acid-soluble proteins of wheat leaves by PAGE revealed the appearance of 22- and 20-kDa polypeptides, the disappearance of a 14-kDa polypeptide, and an increase in the content of polypeptides with molecular weights of 76, 48, 25, and 18 kDa. The 18-kDa polypeptide is a subunit of wheat germ agglutinin. A change in the activity of lectins may be a nonspecific response of plants to infection with the pathogen.

PMID: 15609859 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


Biochem J. 1982 Sep 15;206(3):571-6.

A comparative study of the localization of wheat-germ agglutinin and its potential receptors in wheat grains.

Miller RCBowles DJ.

Wheat-germ agglutinin is located only in the embryo of a dry wheat seed and not in the endosperm tissue. This distribution remains unaltered for up to 96 h of germination and growth. The lectin is found not only in a freely soluble form but also in reversible association with particulate subcellular components. There appear to be no poly-peptides that can be solubilized with sonication and aqueous buffers from the embryo tissue that can interact with the agglutinin. This suggests that in vivo the lectin remains uncomplexed to endogenous glycoconjugates or is only able to bind to glycosylated integral membrane polypeptides. Alternatively the potential endogenous receptor(s) to wheat-germ agglutinin may not contain a polypeptide. Although the lectin is not present in the endosperm, seven polypeptides able to interact in a reversible way with wheat-germ agglutinin could be purified from that tissue.

PMID: 6897353

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J Cell Biol. 1982 Mar;92(3):753-64.

Immunocytochemical localization of wheat germ agglutinin in wheat.

Mishkind MRaikhel NVPalevitz BAKeegstra K.

Immunocytological techniques were developed to localize the plant lectin, wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), in the tissues and cells of wheat plants. In a previous study we demonstrated with a radioimmunoassay that the lectin is present in wheat embryos and adult plants both in the roots and at the base of the stem. We have now found, using rhodamine, peroxidase, and ferritin-labeled secondary antibodies, that WGA is located in cells and tissues that establish direct contact with the soil during germination and growth of the plant In the embryo, WGA is found in the surface layer of the radicle, the first adventitious roots, the coleoptile, and the scutellum. Although found throughout the coleorhiza and epiblast, it is at its highest levels within the cells at the surface of these organs. In adult plants, WGA is located only in the caps and tips of adventitious roots. Reaction product for WGA was not visualized in embryonic or adult leaves or in other tissues of adult plants. At the subcellular level, WGA is located at the periphery of protein bodies, within electron-translucent regions of the cytoplasm, and at the cell wall-protoplast interface. Since WGA is found at potential infection sites and is known to have fungicidal properties, it may function in the defense against fungal pathogens.


PMID: 7045136


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Blood. 1984 Jan;63(1):181-7.

The role of sialic acid in the activation of platelets by wheat germ agglutinin.

Ganguly PFossett NG.

Sialic acid is believed to play a critical role in the survival of blood platelets in circulation. Wheat germ agglutinin, which shows specificity for sialic acid, N-acetylglucosamine, and N-acetylgalactosamine, strongly activates platelets. The role of sialic acid in platelet activation by this lectin was studied utilizing neuraminidase-treated platelets and the succinylated lectin that has been reported not to recognize sialic acid. The succinylated lectin had a dimeric structure similar to the native lectin, but migrated more slowly in gel electrophoresis. The modified lectin bound to about 2.8 X 10(5) sites/cell, with an apparent dissociation constant of 2 microM compared to 5 X 10(5) sites/cell and a dissociation constant of 0.4 microM for the native lectin. The succinylated lectin neither aggregated nor agglutinated platelets, but agglutination of red cells in microtiter plates was normal. Aggregation of platelets by either wheat germ agglutinin or ristocetin was not affected by the succinylated lectin. Since the native wheat germ agglutinin is a strong activator of platelets and the succinylated derivative was devoid of all activity, it appears that a sialoprotein acts as the biologic receptor of wheat germ agglutinin in human platelets. This suggestion was strengthened by the observation that platelets treated with different concentrations of neuraminidase had a decreased capacity to bind this lectin. These platelets also showed reduced aggregation and serotonin secretion when activated with the native lectin. Since sialic acid has been implicated in the removal of platelets from circulation, wheat germ agglutinin may prove to be a useful tool to explore those clinical conditions in which platelet survival is shortened.

PMID: 6546297


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