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J Biol Chem. 2003 Oct 17;278(42):41282-93. Epub 2003 Jul 9.

Dimeric galectin-1 induces surface exposure of phosphatidylserine and phagocytic recognition of leukocytes without inducing apoptosis.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Oklahoma Center for Medical Glycobiology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73104, USA.


We report that human galectin-1 (dGal-1), a small dimeric beta-galactoside-binding protein, induces phosphatidylserine (PS) exposure, measured by Annexin V staining, on human promyelocytic HL-60 cells, T leukemic MOLT-4 cells, and fMet-Leu-Phe-activated, but not resting, human neutrophils. This effect of dGal-1 on HL-60 and MOLT-4 cells is enhanced by pretreatment of the cells with neuraminidase, but treatment of resting neutrophils with neuraminidase does not enhance their sensitivity to dGal-1. Although the induction of staining with Annexin V is often associated with apoptosis, the dGal-1-treated HL-60 cells, MOLT-4 cells, and activated neutrophils do not undergo apoptosis, and there is no detectable DNA fragmentation. HL-60 and MOLT-4 cells treated with dGal-1 continue to grow normally. By contrast, camptothecin-treated HL-60 cells, etoposide-treated MOLT-4 cells, and anti-Fas-treated neutrophils exhibit extensive DNA fragmentation and/or cell death. Lactose inhibits the dGal-1-induced effects, indicating that dGal-1-induced signaling requires binding to cell surface beta-galactosides. The dimeric form of Gal-1 is required for signaling, because a monomeric mutant form of Gal-1, termed mGal-1, binds to cells but does not cause these effects. Importantly, dGal-1, but not mGal-1, treatment of HL-60 cells and activated human neutrophils significantly promotes their phagocytosis by activated mouse macrophages. These dGal-1-induced effects are distinguishable from apoptosis, but like apoptotic agents, prepare cells for phagocytic removal. Such effects of dGal-1 may contribute to leukocyte homeostasis.

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