This article reviews recent progress in the development of lectin-based biosensors used for the determination of glucose, pathogenic bacteria and toxins, cancer cells, and lectins. Lectin proteins have been widely used for the construction of optical and electrochemical biosensors by exploiting the specific binding affinity to carbohydrates. Among lectin proteins, concanavalin A (Con A) is most frequently used for this purpose as glucose- and mannose-selective lectin. Con A is useful for immobilizing enzymes including glucose oxidase (GOx) and horseradish peroxidase (HRP) on the surface of a solid support to construct glucose and hydrogen peroxide sensors, because these enzymes are covered with intrinsic hydrocarbon chains. Con A-modified electrodes can be used as biosensors sensitive to glucose, cancer cells, and pathogenic bacteria covered with hydrocarbon chains. The target substrates are selectively adsorbed to the surface of Con A-modified electrodes through strong affinity of Con A to hydrocarbon chains. A recent topic in the development of lectin-based biosensors is a successful use of nanomaterials, such as metal nanoparticles and carbon nanotubes, for amplifying output signals of the sensors. In addition, lectin-based biosensors are useful for studying glycan expression on living cells.
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