Lectins are proteins/glycoproteins of non-immune origin, which are widely distributed in
nature. They have at least one non-catalytic domain, which binds reversibly to specific monosaccharides
or oligosaccharides. Lectins recognizing sugar moieties in cell walls or cell membranes alter the
membrane physiology and trigger biochemical changes in the cell. Thus, various applications of lectins
have been described, for example as tools to identify aberrant glycans expressed by neoplastic cells
and as antitumor agents by inducing apoptosis by various mechanisms. In order to widen applications of anti-tumor lectins,
a detailed investigation of their action mechanism is required. Mushrooms are a valuable source of novel lectins with
unique specificities and potentials for biotechnological and biomedical applications. This article reviews information on
anti-proliferative activity of mushroom lectins obtained in-vitro and in-vivo. The possible role of lectins as cancer therapeutics
is discussed together with the mechanisms underlying the anti-proliferative activity, which may help to exploit
these biomolecules as potential novel antitumor drugs in near future.
Keywords: Anticancer agents, Antiproliferative activity, Apoptosis, Cancer, Lectins, Mushrooms.
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