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Int J Cancer. 2003 Jan 20;103(3):370-9.

Upregulation of galectins-1 and -3 in human colon cancer and their role in regulating cell migration.

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Laboratory of Gastroenterology, Erasmus Hospital, Brussels, Belgium.


To probe the potential contribution of beta-galactoside-contributing epitopes and receptor proteins (gal-1 and gal-3) to colon malignancy, we first examined the expression of galectins and binding sites in clinical specimens by lectin and immunohistochemistry. Sixty-seven colonic surgical resections were studied, including 10 normal, 10 mild dysplasias, 10 severe dysplasias and 37 cancers. gal-1 and gal-3 were expressed in variable amounts in the epithelial cells and the connective tissue of normal colon. Their expression significantly increased with the degree of dysplasia, suggesting that gal-1 and gal-3 and their binding sites are related to malignant progression, while gal-8 has been associated with suppressor activity. To study the functional aspects, the influence of these galectins on the migration of 4 human colorectal cancer cell lines (HCT-15, LoVo, DLD-1, CoLo201) was studied. In agreement with histopathologic monitoring, these tumor cells were found to produce gal-3, while only CoLo201 was positive for gal-1. Except for DLD-1 and gal-1, the lines exhibited gal-1 binding sites on the surface, prompting study by computer-assisted videomicroscopy of the effect on cell migration of the presence of galectin on the culture substrate. The level of cell migration for HCT-15, LoVo and CoLo201 cells was significantly reduced by 0.15 microg/cm(2) gal-1, and the presence of a blocking antibody at least reduced this effect. gal-3 significantly reduced cell migration in all 4 of the in vitro cell lines.

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