Reverse lectin histochemistry: Design and application of glycoligands for detection of cell and tissue lectins

H. J. Gabius, S. Gabius, T. V. Zemlyanukhina, N. V. Bovin, U. Brinck, A. Danguy, S. S. Joshi, K. Kayser, J. Schottelius, F. Sinowatz, L. F. Tietze, F. Vidal-Vanaclocha, J. P. Zanetta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


Plant and invertebrate lectins are valuable cyto- and histological tools for the localization of defined carbohydrate determinants. The well-documented ubiquitous occurrence of sugar receptors encourages functional considerations. Undoubtedly, analysis of the presence of vertebrate lectins in tissues and cells is required to answer the pertinent and tempting question on the physiological relavance of protein (lectin)-carbohydrate recognition in situ. Carrier-immobilized glycoligands, derived from custom-made chemical synthesis, enable the visualization of respective binding sites. Histochemically inert proteins or synthetic polymers with appropriate functional groups are suitable carrier molecules for essential incorporation of ligand and label. The resulting neoglycoconjugates can track down tissue receptors that are neither impaired by fixation procedures nor blocked by endogenous high affinity ligands. Lectins especially the receptors of the tissue under investigation (endogenous lectins) and appropriately tailored immobilized glycoligands or lectin-specific antibodies (when available) are complementary tools to test the attractive hypothesis that diverse functionally relevant glycobiological processes within or between cells are operative. Concomitant evaluation of both sides of lectin histochemistry, namely lectins as tools and lectins as functionally important molecules in situ, will indubitably render desired progress amenable in our often still fragmentary understanding of the importance of tissue lectin and glycoconjugate expression and its regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-383
Number of pages15
JournalHistology and Histopathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology


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