08 April 2015
Lectins are non-immunoglobulin proteins that bind diverse sugar structures with a high degree of selectivity. Lectins play crucial role in various biological processes such as cellular signaling, scavenging of glycoproteins from the circulatory system, cell–cell interactions in the immune system, differentiation and protein targeting to cellular compartments, as well as in host defence mechanisms, inflammation, and cancer. Among all the sources of lectins, plants have been most extensively studied. However, more recently fungal lectins have attracted considerable attention due to their antitumor, antiproliferative and immunomodulatory activities. Given that only 10% of mushroom species are known and have been taxonomically classified, mushrooms represent an enormous unexplored source of potentially useful and novel lectins. In this review we provide an up-to-date summary on the biochemical, molecular and structural properties of mushroom lectins, as well as their versatile applications specifically focusing on mushroom lectin bioactivity.