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Glycobiology. 2002 Oct;12(10):127R-36R.

Ah, sweet mystery of death! Galectins and control of cell fate.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Johnson Comprehensive Cancer Center, UCLA School of Medicine, 10833 Le Conte Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


Control of cell death is critical in eukaryotic development, immune system homeostasis, and control of tumorigenesis. The galectin family of lectins is implicated in all of these processes. Other families of molecules function as death receptors or death effectors, but galectins are uniquely capable of acting both extracellularly and intracellularly to control cell death. Extracellularly, galectins cross-link glycan ligands to transduce signals that lead directly to death or that influence other signals regulating cell fate. Intracellular expression of galectins can modulate other signals controlling cell viability. Individual galectins can act on multiple cell types, and multiple galectins can act on the same cell. Understanding how galectins regulate cell viability and function will broaden our knowledge of the roles of galectins in basic biological processes and facilitate development of therapeutic applications for galectins in autoimmunity, transplant-related disease, and cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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