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  • Antinutrient

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    Phytic acid (deprotonated phytate anion in the picture) is an antinutrient that interferes with the absorption of minerals from the diet.|200x200pxAntinutrients are natural or synthetic compounds that interfere with the absorption of nutrients. Nutrition studies focus on these antinutrients commonly found in food sources and beverages.

  • Lectin

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    Lateral hemagglutinineLectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins, macromolecules that are highly specific for sugar moieties of other molecules. Lectins perform recognition on the cellular and molecular level and play numerous roles in biological recognition phenomena involving cells, carbohydrates, and proteins. Lectins also mediate attachment and binding of bacteria and viruses to their intended targets. Lectins are ubiquitous in nature and are found in many foods. Some foods such as beans and grains need to be cooked or fermented to reduce lectin content. Some lectins are beneficial, such as CLEC11A which promotes bone growth, while others may be powerful toxins such as ricin. Lectins may be disabled by specific mono- and oligosaccharides, which bind to ingested lectins from grains, legume, nightshade plants and dairy; binding can prevent their attachment to the carbohydrates within the cell membrane. The selectivity of lectins means that they are very useful for analyzing blood type, and they are also used in some genetically engineered crops to transfer traits, such as resistance to pests and resistance to herbicides.

  • Concanavalin A

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    Concanavalin A (ConA) is a lectin (carbohydrate-binding protein) originally extracted from the jack-bean, Canavalia ensiformis. It is a member of the legume lectin family. It binds specifically to certain structures found in various sugars, glycoproteins, and glycolipids, mainly internal and nonreducing terminal α-D-mannosyl and α-D-glucosyl groups. ConA is a plant mitogen, and is known for its ability to stimulate mouse T-cell subsets giving rise to four functionally distinct T cell populations, including precursors to suppressor T-cell; one subset of human suppressor T-cells as well is sensitive to ConA. ConA was the first lectin to be available on a commercial basis, and is widely used in biology and biochemistry to characterize glycoproteins and other sugar-containing entities on the surface of various cells. It is also used to purify glycosylated macromolecules in lectin affinity chromatography, as well as to study immune regulation by various immune cells.

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