Year of publication:
Journal title abbreviated:
CRIT REV CL LAB SCI
Journal title long:
Critical reviews in clinical laboratory sciences
During differentiation cells are known to change their biological behavior according to their genotype. This is thought to be accompanied by a modulation of cell surface determinants expressed on the outer cell membrane. Vice versa, cell surface molecules are suggested to mediate extracellular signals to the genome. Most of these molecules integrated in the cell membrane have been proven to be glycoconjugates. The carbohydrate moieties of these molecules can be detected by means of lectins that are characterized by their ability to react specifically with distinct terminal sugar sequences. Thus, lectins have been used as appropriate tools for studying the modulation of functionally important membrane-associated molecules during the differentiation of cells, in particular of B- and T-lymphocytes. Moreover, lectins have been proven to distinguish between differentiated cells and malignant cell clones, according to the hypothesis that transformed cells possess a glycoconjugate profile that corresponds to the stage of differentiation at which they are arrested. Since lectins, like monoclonal antibodies, make it possible to study functionally important molecules that are associated with differentiation and malignancy, they might be of value for diagnostic purposes and, moreover, for analyzing malignant transformation.