Galectins: Introduction

The human galectins (galactoside-binding lectins) are a family of 15 glycan-binding proteins [11] (HGNC gene family: Galectins (LGALS)), that play regulatory roles in developmental processes [8,20], immunity and inflammation [1,4,7,13,15], fibrosis [16,18] and progression of cancer [2-3,5-6,10,14,19]. Glycan binding occurs via the galectin carbohydrate recognition domain (CRD). Galectins are receiving much interest as immunomodulatory targets for drug developers, particularly in relation to chronic inflammation [9], autoimmune pathologies [17], and shaping of the immune microenvironment in cancer [12].


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1. Almkvist J, Karlsson A. (2002) Galectins as inflammatory mediators. Glycoconj J, 19 (7-9): 575-81. [PMID:14758082]

2. Bidon-Wagner N, Le Pennec JP. (2002) Human galectin-8 isoforms and cancer. Glycoconj J, 19 (7-9): 557-63. [PMID:14758080]

3. Colomb F, Wang W, Simpson D, Zafar M, Beynon R, Rhodes JM, Yu LG. (2017) Galectin-3 interacts with the cell-surface glycoprotein CD146 (MCAM, MUC18) and induces secretion of metastasis-promoting cytokines from vascular endothelial cells. J Biol Chem, 292 (20): 8381-8389. [PMID:28364041]

4. Davicino RC, Eliçabe RJ, Di Genaro MS, Rabinovich GA. (2011) Coupling pathogen recognition to innate immunity through glycan-dependent mechanisms. Int Immunopharmacol, 11 (10): 1457-63. [PMID:21600310]

5. Friedel M, André S, Goldschmidt H, Gabius HJ, Schwartz-Albiez R. (2016) Galectin-8 enhances adhesion of multiple myeloma cells to vascular endothelium and is an adverse prognostic factor. Glycobiology, 26 (10): 1048-1058. [PMID:27287437]

6. Grassadonia A, Tinari N, Iurisci I, Piccolo E, Cumashi A, Innominato P, D'Egidio M, Natoli C, Piantelli M, Iacobelli S. (2002) 90K (Mac-2 BP) and galectins in tumor progression and metastasis. Glycoconj J, 19 (7-9): 551-6. [PMID:14758079]

7. Hirashima M, Kashio Y, Nishi N, Yamauchi A, Imaizumi TA, Kageshita T, Saita N, Nakamura T. (2004) Galectin-9 in physiological and pathological conditions. Glycoconj J, 19 (7-9): 593-600. [PMID:14758084]

8. Hughes RC. (2002) Galectins in kidney development. Glycoconj J, 19 (7-9): 621-9. [PMID:14758088]

9. Ilarregui JM, Bianco GA, Toscano MA, Rabinovich GA. (2005) The coming of age of galectins as immunomodulatory agents: impact of these carbohydrate binding proteins in T cell physiology and chronic inflammatory disorders. Ann Rheum Dis, 64 Suppl 4: iv96-103. [PMID:16239398]

10. Lahm H, André S, Hoeflich A, Kaltner H, Siebert HC, Sordat B, von der Lieth CW, Wolf E, Gabius HJ. (2004) Tumor galectinology: insights into the complex network of a family of endogenous lectins. Glycoconj J, 20 (4): 227-38. [PMID:15115907]

11. Leffler H, Carlsson S, Hedlund M, Qian Y, Poirier F. (2002) Introduction to galectins. Glycoconj J, 19 (7-9): 433-40. [PMID:14758066]

12. Rabinovich GA, Conejo-García JR. (2016) Shaping the Immune Landscape in Cancer by Galectin-Driven Regulatory Pathways. J Mol Biol, 428 (16): 3266-3281. [PMID:27038510]

13. Rabinovich GA, Toscano MA, Ilarregui JM, Rubinstein N. (2002) Shedding light on the immunomodulatory properties of galectins: novel regulators of innate and adaptive immune responses. Glycoconj J, 19 (7-9): 565-73. [PMID:14758081]

14. Ruvolo PP. (2016) Galectin 3 as a guardian of the tumor microenvironment. Biochim Biophys Acta, 1863 (3): 427-437. [PMID:26264495]

15. Sato S, Nieminen J. (2002) Seeing strangers or announcing "danger": galectin-3 in two models of innate immunity. Glycoconj J, 19 (7-9): 583-91. [PMID:14758083]

16. Sumida Y, Yoneda M. (2018) Current and future pharmacological therapies for NAFLD/NASH. J Gastroenterol, 53 (3): 362-376. [PMID:29247356]

17. Toscano MA, Martínez Allo VC, Cutine AM, Rabinovich GA, Mariño KV. (2018) Untangling Galectin-Driven Regulatory Circuits in Autoimmune Inflammation. Trends Mol Med, 24 (4): 348-363. [PMID:29555188]

18. Traber PG, Zomer E. (2013) Therapy of experimental NASH and fibrosis with galectin inhibitors. PLoS ONE, 8 (12): e83481. [PMID:24367597]

19. van den Brûle F, Califice S, Castronovo V. (2002) Expression of galectins in cancer: a critical review. Glycoconj J, 19 (7-9): 537-42. [PMID:14758077]

20. Watt DJ, Jones GE, Goldring K. (2002) The involvement of galectin-1 in skeletal muscle determination, differentiation and regeneration. Glycoconj J, 19 (7-9): 615-9. [PMID:14758087]

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Galectins, introduction. Last modified on 19/04/2018. Accessed on 26/09/2022. IUPHAR/BPS Guide to PHARMACOLOGY,