Mushroom Lectins as Promising Anticancer Substances

Curr Protein Pept Sci. 2016;17(8):797-807. doi: 10.2174/1389203717666160226144741.


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.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agaricales / classification
  • Agaricales / metabolism*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects*
  • Cell Wall / drug effects
  • Cell Wall / metabolism
  • Fungal Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Lectins / pharmacology*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Lectins