One, two, many: Strategies to alter the number of carbohydrate binding sites of lectins

Felix Tobola*, Birgit Wiltschi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Carbohydrates are more than an energy-storage. They are ubiquitously found on cells and most proteins, where they encode biological information. Lectins bind these carbohydrates and are essential for translating the encoded information into biological functions and processes. Hundreds of lectins are known, and they are found in all domains of life. For half a century, researchers have been preparing variants of lectins in which the binding sites are varied. In this way, the traits of the lectins such as the affinity, avidity and specificity towards their ligands as well as their biological efficacy were changed. These efforts helped to unravel the biological importance of lectins and resulted in improved variants for biotechnological exploitation and potential medical applications. This review gives an overview on the methods for the preparation of artificial lectins and complexes thereof and how reducing or increasing the number of binding sites affects their function.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108020
JournalBiotechnology Advances
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • Artificial lectin multimers
  • Lectin engineering
  • Lectins
  • Neolectins
  • Synthetic biology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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