Arcelin-1 is a lectin-like protein found in the seeds of wild varieties of the kidney bean (Phaseolus vulgaris). This protein displays insecticidal properties, but the mechanism of action is as yet unknown. In the present study we investigated the biochemical and biophysical properties of arcelin-1 from Phaseolus vulgaris cv. RAZ-2. Native arcelin-1 is a dimeric glycoprotein of 60 kDa, built from the non-covalent association of two identical monomers. This dimer resists dissociation by chaotropic agents and is highly resistant to proteolytic enzymes. Each subunit contains 10% (w/w) neutral sugars which belong to the high-mannose and complex-type glycans attached to three glycosylation sites. No interaction of the protein with simple sugars could be detected, but arcelin-1 displays an intrinsic specificity in binding complex glycans. Arcelin-1 therefore differs from the closely related phytohaemagglutinin lectins and α-amylase inhibitor in several respects: oligomerization states, sugar-binding affinities and the type and number of glycan chains. These features may be related to the toxicity of arcelin-1.

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