1. Potato lectin is a glycoprotein that contains about 47% (by weight) l-arabinose, 3% d-galactose and 11% hydroxyproline. It has a monomeric molecular weight of about 50000 and probably exists as a monomer–dimer system in aqueous solution, with the monomer predominating. It has a very high viscosity, which would indicate either that the molecule is very expanded or that it is an elongated ellipsoid. 2. After prolonged proteolytic digestion of a reduced and carboxymethylated derivative of the lectin, a glycopeptide was isolated (of mol.wt. 32000–34000) that included all the carbohydrate and hydroxyproline of the original glycoprotein but less than 30% of the total original amino acid residues. 3. The arabinose of the glycoprotein is present exclusively as the β-arabinofuranoside and this includes those residues that are directly linked to the hydroxyproline residues of the polypeptide chain. All the arabinose of the glycoprotein is linked to the polypeptide chain through the hydroxyproline residues; the ratio of arabinose to hydroxyproline is 3.4:1. Although α-arabinofuranosides are known to be present in arabinans and arabinogalactans, the natural occurrence of β-arabinofuranosides has not previously been reported. 4. Nine or ten serine residues of the polypeptide chain are substituted with single α-galactopyranoside residues that can be removed by the action of α-galactosidase from coffee beans but not by a β-galactosidase. This is the first report of an α-galactoside linkage to serine. The effect of α-galactosidase is much greater on a glycopeptide from which the arabinose has been already removed, which indicates a steric hindrance of the galactosidase action by adjacent chains of arabinosides. 5. In 0.5m-NaOH (pH13.7), galactose residues were removed from the serine residues of the glycopeptide by a process of β-elimination. This reaction took place very slowly in the intact glycopeptide but much more rapidly when the arabinofuranoside residues had been removed. This inhibitory effect of the arabinofuranoside residues on the β-elimination reaction is likely to be due to a negative charge on the hydroxy groups of the adjacent arabinofuranoside residues, which would be ionized at this high pH value. 6. It is suggested that potato lectin may be representative of a class of soluble plant glycoproteins that would include precursors of the cell-wall glycoprotein extensin. If this is the case, extensin should also contain β-l-arabinofuranosides linked to hydroxyproline and α-d-galactopyranosides linked to serine residues of the polypeptide chain.

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