Soluble lectins are widely distributed cell-agglutinating proteins. Their activity is developmentally regulated in several tissues, including the lung, but virtually nothing is known about the mechanisms of the developmental regulation or the turnover of these proteins. We studied mechanisms that might be responsible for the developmentally regulated changes in the activity of a lectin (beta-galactoside-binding protein) found in the lung, and determined if its activity or turnover could be modulated by treatment of rat pups with a glucocorticosteroid hormone (dexamethasone). Our studies on the activity and turnover of the lectin indicated that the peak of lectin activity (units/mg of protein) that occurred at age 12 days appeared to be brought about by two means: an increase in the activity of the lectin molecule itself (units/micrograms of lectin) that occurred at age 8 days, and 1.5-fold increase in the absolute rate of lectin synthesis at age 11 days. The decline in lectin activity was associated with a decrease in its rate of synthesis, return to the baseline extent of activation, and an increased rate of degradation. Treatment of rat pups with dexamethasone diminished the peak of lectin activity (units/mg of protein) by about 25%. This effect of dexamethasone was due, at least in part, to the complete prevention of activation of the lectin molecule (units/micrograms of lectin) and a premature increase in the rate of lectin degradation. Perhaps the normal fall in lectin activity after age 11 days is caused by mechanisms induced by the increase in serum corticosteroid that occurs at that age.

This content is only available as a PDF.