Concanavalin A is synthesized as a glycoprotein precursor

E. M. Herman, L. M. Shannon, M. J. Chrispeels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Concanavalin A (Con A) is a tetrameric lectin which is synthesized in the cotyledons of developing jack-bean (Canavalia ensiformis (L.) D.C.) seeds and accumulates in the protein bodies of storage-parenchyma cells. The polypeptides of Con A have a molecular weight of 27000 and a relative molecular mass (Mr) of 30000 when analyzed by gel electrophoresis on denaturing polyacrylamide gels. In-vitro translation of RNA isolated from immature jack-bean cotyledons shows that Con A is synthesized as a polypeptide with Mr 34000. In-vivo pulse labeling of cotyledons with radioactive amino acids or glucosamine also resulted in the formation of a 34000-Mr polypeptide. In-vivo labeling with radioactive amino acids in the presence of tunicamycin yielded an additional polypeptide of 32000 Mr. Together these results indicate that Con A is cotranslationally processed by the removal of a signal sequence and the addition of an oligosaccharide side chain of corresponding size. Analysis of the structure of the oligogosaccharide side chain was accomplished through glycosidase digestion of glycopeptides isolated from [3H]glucosamine-labeled Con A. Incubation of the labeled glycopeptides with endoglycosidase H, α-mannosidase or β-N-acetylglucosaminidase, followed by gel filtration, allowed us to deduce that the oligosaccharide side chain of pro-Con A is a high-mannose oligosaccharide. Pulse-chase experiments with labeled amino acids are consistent with the interpretation that the glycosylated precursor of Con A is processed to mature Con A (Mr=30000). The 4000 decrease in Mr is interpreted to result from the removal of a small glycopeptide. The implications of the conversion of a glycoprotein pro-Con A to mature Con A are discussed in the context of the unique circular permutation of the primary structure of Con A.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-29
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1985


  • Canavalia
  • Concanavalin A
  • Glycoprotein
  • Lectin
  • Protein processing
  • Seed lectins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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