Snake venoms contain an astounding variety of different proteins. Among them are numerous C-type lectin family members, which are grouped into classical Ca2+
- and sugar-binding lectins and the non-sugar-binding snake venom C-type lectin-related proteins (SV-CLRPs), also called snaclecs. Both groups share the robust C-type lectin domain (CTLD) fold but differ in a long loop, which either contributes to a sugar-binding site or is expanded into a loop-swapping heterodimerization domain between two CLRP subunits. Most C-type lectin (-related) proteins assemble in ordered supramolecular complexes with a high versatility of subunit numbers and geometric arrays. Similarly versatile is their ability to inhibit or block their target molecules as well as to agonistically stimulate or antagonistically blunt a cellular reaction triggered by their target receptor. By utilizing distinct interaction sites differentially, SV-CLRPs target a plethora of molecules, such as distinct coagulation factors and receptors of platelets and endothelial cells that are involved in hemostasis, thrombus formation, inflammation and hematogenous metastasis. Because of their robust structure and their high affinity towards their clinically relevant targets, SV-CLRPs are and will potentially be valuable prototypes to develop new diagnostic and therapeutic tools in medicine, provided that the molecular mechanisms underlying their versatility are disclosed.
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