Lectins are important tools for cell typing and for the study of cell surface components. They have been widely used for the analysis of carbohydrates on the surface of many eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells, but they have not yet been exploited in the study of the halophilic Archaea (family Halobacteriaceae), because of the high salinity required for the structural integrity of these microorganisms. We have defined the salt concentration threshold high enough for survival of the Archaea, but sufficiently low for lectins to bind to them. Under these conditions we studied the interactions of a series of lectins, exhibiting different sugar specificities, with diverse halophilic Archaea. Concanavalin A was the most reactive by virtue of its glucose (and mannose) binding. The other lectins varied in their interactions. The results indicate that lectins might be useful probes for both archaeal typing and analysis of their cell surface carbohydrates.
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