Plant lectins are cytotoxic and can be used to select for mutants of animal cells that exhibit structural changes in cell surface carbohydrates reflecting glycosylation defects. We isolated eight lectin mutants of Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells that appear to represent three different phenotype classes. These lectin mutants were much more sensitive to the cytotoxic action of normal rabbit serum (NRS) than were the parental cells. This increased cytotoxicity was heat sensitive, specifically absorbed, and inhibited by simple and complex carbohydrates. No killing was observed under conditions in which only the alternate complement pathway was active. An NRS-resistant subclone that was isolated from one lectin mutant was shown to have also regained wild type behavior when tested with the lectins. The possibility that naturally occurring antibodies in rabbit serum are reacting with incomplete carbohydrate chains on the surface of the lectin mutants is discussed.

This content is only available as a PDF.