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Exploring lectin-glycan interactions to combat COVID-19: lessons acquired from other enveloped viruses

  • da Silva, Luís Cláudio Nascimento1, 2
  • Mendonça, Juliana Silva Pereira1
  • de Oliveira, Weslley Felix3
  • Batista, Karla Lílian Rodrigues2
  • Zagmignan, Adrielle2
  • Viana, Isabelle Freire Tabosa4
  • Santos Correia, Maria Tereza3
  • 1 Programa de Pós-graduação em Biologia Microbiana, Brazil , (Brazil)
  • 2 Programa de Pós-graduação em Biodiversidade e Biotecnologia da Amazônia Legal, Brazil , (Brazil)
  • 3 Departamento de Bioquímica, Brazil , (Brazil)
  • 4 Departamento de Virologia, Brazil , (Brazil)
Published Article
Oxford University Press
Publication Date
Oct 21, 2020
DOI: 10.1093/glycob/cwaa099
PMID: 33094324
PMCID: PMC7665446
PubMed Central


The emergence of a new human coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has imposed great pressure on the health system worldwide. The presence of glycoproteins on the viral envelope opens a wide range of possibilities for application of lectins to address some urgent problems involved in this pandemic. In this work, we discuss the potential contributions of lectins from non-mammalian sources in the development of several fields associated with viral infections, most notably COVID-19. We review the literature on the use of non-mammalian lectins as a therapeutic approach against members of the Coronaviridae family, including recent advances in strategies of protein engineering to improve their efficacy. The applications of lectins as adjuvants for antiviral vaccines are also discussed. Finally, we present some emerging strategies employing lectins for the development of biosensors, microarrays, immunoassays and tools for purification of viruses from whole blood. Altogether, the data compiled in this review highlights the importance of structural studies aiming to improve our knowledge about the basis of glycan recognition by lectins and its repercussions in several fields, providing potential solutions for complex aspects that are emerging from different health challenges.

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