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Enzymes that degrade host glycans are increasingly being found as virulence factors in pathogenic bacteria[1][2]. A common property of extracellular glycan degrading enzymes found in such bacteria is multi-modularity; these enzymes often comprise a large number of modules with a variety of functions. The most common class of ancillary module are carbohydrate-binding modules (CBMs)[3], which are alternatively referred to as lectin-domains. These modules are responsible for targeting carbohydrate-degrading enzymes to a glycan substrate or, when the enzymes are attached to the bacterial cell-surface, likely also function to adhere the bacterium to a glycan[4]. The presence of these lectin-domains in multi-modular proteins and their contribution of glycan binding function to catalytically active proteins distinguishes these modules from other bacterial glycan-binding proteins (GBPs). The CBM47 modules from the Streptococcus pneumoniae enzyme SpGH98 (or "fucolectin-related protein") are specific to the Lewisy antigen[5], which is quite rare among all GBPs, and function to target this enzyme to this antigen when present on epithelial cells[6]. Recognition and destruction of this antigen appears to be a critical process in pneumococcal virulence[2][7].


CFG Participating Investigators contributing to the understanding of this paradigm

This is a very new area of investigation. CFG Participating Investigators (PIs) that have screened other CBMs or proteins containing CBMs include: Alisdair Boraston, Garry Taylor, Warren Wakarchuck

Progress toward understanding this GBP paradigm

Carbohydrate ligands

Cellular expression


Biological roles of GBP-ligand interaction

CFG resources used in investigations

The best examples of CFG contributions to this paradigm are described below, with links to specific data sets. For a complete list of CFG data and resources relating to this paradigm, see the CFG database search results for CBM.

Glycan profiling

Glycogene microarray

Knockout mouse lines

Glycan array

The specificity of several CBMs have been investigated by CFG glycan array analysis (example). Isolated glycans for structural and quantitative binding studies have also been obtained from the CFG.

Related GBPs


  1. Shelburne, S. A., Davenport, M. T., Keith, D. B. & Musser, J. M. (2008). The role of complex carbohydrate catabolism in the pathogenesis of invasive streptococci. Trends Microbiol 16, 318-25.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Hava, D. L. & Camilli, A. (2002). Large-scale identification of serotype 4 Streptococcus pneumoniae virulence factors. Mol Microbiol 45, 1389-406.
  3. Boraston, A. B., Bolam, D. N., Gilbert, H. J. & Davies, G. J. (2004). Carbohydrate-binding modules: fine tuning polysaccharide recognition. Biochem J 382, 769-782.
  4. Ficko-Blean, E., Gregg, K. J., Adams, J. J., Hehemann, J. H., Czjzek, M., Smith, S. P. & Boraston, A. B. (2009). Portrait of an enzyme, a complete structural analysis of a multimodular {beta}-N-acetylglucosaminidase from Clostridium perfringens. J Biol Chem 284, 9876-84.
  5. Boraston, A. B., Wang, D. & Burke, R. D. (2006). Blood group antigen recognition by a Streptococcus pneumoniae virulence factor. J Biol Chem 281, 35263-35271.
  6. Higgins, M. A., Whitworth, G. E., El Warry, N., Randriantsoa, M., Samain, E., Burke, R. D., Vocadlo, D. J. & Boraston, A. B. (2009). Differential recognition and hydrolysis of host carbohydrate antigens by Streptococcus pneumoniae family 98 glycoside hydrolases. J Biol Chem 284, 26161-73.
  7. Embry, A., Hinojosa, E. & Orihuela, C. J. (2007). Regions of Diversity 8, 9 and 13 contribute to Streptococcus pneumoniae virulence. BMC Microbiol 7, 80.


The CFG is grateful to the following PIs for their contributions to this wiki page: Alisdair Boraston, Anne Imberty

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