Interactions of carbohydrates (or glycans) with their receptor proteins (called lectins) are crucial for numerous biological activities including cell-cell communication, pathogen invasion and immune defense. Lectins are ubiquitous proteins that are found in every living form. The following two examples will be discussed to show the functional diversity of lectins. The first example will show how a tumor-associated lectin reversibly masks a cancer biomarker. The potential clinical implications of such masking activity will be discussed. The second example will present the discovery of a new carbohydrate-binding hemolytic protein from a plant species. This protein rapidly ruptures mammalian erythrocytes and agglutinates fungal cells. Interestingly, the binding property of this plant protein is similar to that of a bacterial hemolysin namely cholera toxin. The possible functions and clinical use of this new hemolytic protein will be discussed.
Dr.Tarun K .Dam obtained a Ph. D. from the University of Calcutta (India) and completed a postdoctoral training at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York working under the guidance of Professor Fred Brewer. He then became a faculty at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, NY before accepting in 2010 an Assistant Professor position in the Chemistry Department at the Michigan Technological University. Dr. Dam has published over the years more than 40 scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals, with an h-index of 22. He has received several nominations, awards and accolades for his scientific activity including the Young Scientist award for contributions in biocalorimetry, the Michigan Tech Distinguished Teaching Award finalist in 2014 and 2015 and the Michgan Best mentor award nomination in 2013 and 2015.