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J Biol Chem. 2001 Aug 17;276(33):31285-95. Epub 2001 May 22.

Galectin-8 functions as a matricellular modulator of cell adhesion.

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Department of Molecular Cell Biology, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel.


The interaction of cells with the extracellular matrix regulates cell adhesion and motility. Here we demonstrate that different cell types adhere and spread when cultured in serum-free medium on immobilized galectin-8, a mammalian beta-galactoside-binding protein. At maximal doses, galectin-8 is equipotent to fibronectin in promoting cell adhesion and spreading. Cell adhesion to immobilized galectin-8 is mediated by sugar-protein interactions with integrins, and galectin-8 triggers integrin-mediated signaling cascades including Tyr phosphorylation of focal adhesion kinase and paxillin. Cell adhesion is potentiated in the presence of Mn(2+), whereas it is interrupted in the presence of soluble galectin-8, integrin beta(1) inhibitory antibodies, EDTA, or thiodigalactoside but not by RGD peptides. Furthermore, cells readily adhere onto immobilized monoclonal galectin-8 antibodies, which are equipotent to integrin antibodies in promoting cell adhesion. Cell adhesion to immobilized galectin-8 is partially inhibited by serum proteins, suggesting that complex formation between immobilized galectin-8 and serum components generates a matrix that is less supportive of cell adhesion. Accordingly, cell motility on immobilized galectin-8 readily takes place in the presence of serum. Truncation of the C-terminal half of galectin-8, including one of its two carbohydrate recognition domains, largely abolishes its ability to modulate cell adhesion, indicating that both carbohydrate recognition domains are required to maintain a functional form of galectin-8. Collectively, our findings implicate galectin-8 as a physiological modulator of cell adhesion. When immobilized, it functions as a matrix protein equipotent to fibronectin in promoting cell adhesion by ligation and clustering of cell surface integrin receptors. In contrast, when present in excess as a soluble ligand, galectin-8 (like fibronectin) forms a complex with integrins that negatively regulates cell adhesion. Because of its dual effects on the adhesive properties of the cells and its association with fibronectin, galectin-8 might be considered a novel type of matricellular protein.

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