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Protein crystal content analysis by mass spectrometry and preliminary X-ray diffraction of a lectin from Canavalia grandiflora seeds with modulatory role in inflammation


B. S. Cavada, BioMol-Lab, Departmento de Bioquímica e Biologia Molecular, Universidade Federal do Ceará, P.O. Box 6043, 60.445-970 Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil.




Lectins are a family of proteins capable of deciphering the glycan code. Several authors have published works about crystallization and mass spectrometry analyses of ConA-like lectins. However, mass spectrometry has never been used to characterize lectin crystal content. In this study, Canavalia grandiflora lectin (ConGF), a ConA-like lectin, was crystallized, part of its primary structure sequenced and the pro-inflammatory activity evaluated. In addition, the crystal content was analyzed by mass spectrometry.


ConGF was crystallized in the presence of X-Man by hanging-drop vapor diffusion at 293 K and the protein crystal content was analyzed by electrospray ionization in a SYNAPT HDMS mass spectrometer. Partial sequence was obtained by protein digestion with several proteolytic enzymes and the peptides sequenced by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS). The pro-inflammatory potential of ConGF was also evaluated in the model of rat paw edema.


The protein crystals consist of mature α chain and β and γ fragments measuring 25 612 ± 2 Da, 12 962 ± 2 Da and 12 667 ± 2 Da, respectively. The crystal belongs to the orthorhombic space group I222 (unit cell parameters: a = 67.70, b = 55.90, c = 107.46 Å), assuming a monomer in the asymmetric unit. The solvent content was calculated as 43.50% and the protein content as 2.5 µg. Furthermore, a significant part of the primary structure (65.8%) was determined by mass spectrometry.


As far as we know this is the first report of lectin crystal content characterized by mass spectrometry. Like other ConA-like lectins, GonGF induced paw edema however differing in potency and duration. The observed pro-inflammatory activity suggests that ConGF might be a useful tool in the study of inflammation processes and structure/function relationships. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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