Wheat germ agglutinin

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Agglutinin isolectin 1
OrganismTriticum aestivum
PDB2uvo (ECOD)

Wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) is a lectin that protects wheat (Triticum) from insects, yeast and bacteria. An agglutinin protein, it binds to N-acetyl-D-glucosamine and Sialic acid.[1] N-acetyl-D-glucosamine in the natural environment of wheat is found in the chitin of insects, and the cell membrane of yeast & bacteria. WGA is found abundantly—but not exclusively—in the wheat kernel, where it got the 'germ' name from. In mammals the N-acetyl-D-glucosamine that WGA binds to is found in cartilage[2] and cornea[3] among other places. In those animals sialic acid is found in mucous membranes, e.g. the lining of the inner nose, and digestive tract.

In solution, WGA exists mostly as a heterodimer of 38,000 daltons. It is cationic at physiological pH. It contains a Carbohydrate-binding module called CBM18.

See also[edit]

  • Proteopedia: 2uvo – High resolution crystal structure of Wheat Germ Agglutinin in complex with N-acetyl-D-glucosamine
  • Proteopedia: 2uwg – Crystal structure of Wheat Germ Agglutinin isolectin 1 in complex with glycosylurethan


  1. ^ Monsigny M, Roche AC, Sene C, Maget-Dana R, Delmotte F (February 1980). "Sugar-lectin interactions: how does wheat-germ agglutinin bind sialoglycoconjugates?". European Journal of Biochemistry. 104 (1): 147–53. doi:10.1111/j.1432-1033.1980.tb04410.x. PMID 6892800.
  2. ^ Ohno J, Tajima Y, Utsumi N (October 1986). "Binding of wheat germ agglutinin in the matrix of rat tracheal cartilage". The Histochemical Journal. 18 (10): 537–40. doi:10.1007/BF01675194. PMID 3804790.
  3. ^ Marfurt CF (February 1988). "Sympathetic innervation of the rat cornea as demonstrated by the retrograde and anterograde transport of horseradish peroxidase-wheat germ agglutinin". The Journal of Comparative Neurology. 268 (2): 147–60. doi:10.1002/cne.902680202. PMID 3360982.