An L-rhamnose-binding isolectin named STL3 (subunit Mr, 21.5 k) was isolated from eggs of the steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in addition to STL1 (subunit Mr, 31.4 k) and STL2 (subunit Mr, 21.3 k) that had been already isolated. STLs were composed of non-covalently linked subunits. The primary structures of STL1 and STL3 were analyzed by the combined use of protein sequencing and cDNA sequencing. A cDNA encoding STL2, of which the protein sequence had been previously studied, was also analyzed. The STL1 subunit (289 amino acid residues) had different structural properties compared to those of the STL2 subunit (195 amino acid residues) and the STL3 subunit (195 amino acid residues); e.g., the number of repeated domain (three for STL1, and two for STL2 and STL3), although all of them were composed of tandemly repeated homologous domains (40 to 53% identities). The lectin levels in various tissues and during the embryonic development showed that STL1 had different distribution and expression profiles from those of STL2 and STL3. Although STL1 could be detected in several tissues and serum of both male and female steelhead trout, STL2 and STL3 were only abundant in the ovary. STL2 and STL3 levels dramatically decreased just after hatching, however, the STL1 level increased temporarily. These results indicate that the multiple lectins from eggs of the steelhead trout form a novel rhamnose-binding lectin family with different structures and tissue distribution to share distinct functions in eggs.
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