The Tetrameric Plant Lectin BanLec Neutralizes HIV through Bidentate Binding to Specific Viral Glycans

Structure. 2017 May 2;25(5):773-782.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.str.2017.03.015. Epub 2017 Apr 20.


Select lectins have powerful anti-viral properties that effectively neutralize HIV-1 by targeting the dense glycan shield on the virus. Here, we reveal the mechanism by which one of the most potent lectins, BanLec, achieves its inhibition. We identify that BanLec recognizes a subset of high-mannose glycans via bidentate interactions spanning the two binding sites present on each BanLec monomer that were previously considered separate carbohydrate recognition domains. We show that both sites are required for high-affinity glycan binding and virus neutralization. Unexpectedly we find that BanLec adopts a tetrameric stoichiometry in solution whereby the glycan-binding sites are positioned to optimally target glycosylated viral spikes. The tetrameric architecture, together with bidentate binding to individual glycans, leads to layers of multivalency that drive viral neutralization through enhanced avidity effects. These structural insights will prove useful in engineering successful lectin therapeutics targeting the dense glycan shield of HIV.

Keywords: BanLec; Env; HIV; glycosylation; lectin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / chemistry*
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology
  • Binding Sites
  • HIV-1 / chemistry
  • HIV-1 / drug effects
  • Musa / chemistry
  • Plant Lectins / chemistry*
  • Plant Lectins / metabolism
  • Plant Lectins / pharmacology
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Multimerization


  • Antiviral Agents
  • BanLec-I
  • Plant Lectins
  • Polysaccharides