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Glycoconj J. 2004;19(7-9):607-14.

Insect galectins: roles in immunity and development.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1732, USA.


As evidenced by the reviews in this special issue of Glycoconjugate Journal, much research is focused on determining functions for mammalian galectins. However, the identification of precise functions for mammalian galectins may be complicated by redundancy in tissue expression and in target cell recognition of the many mammalian galectins. Therefore, lower organisms may be useful in deciphering precise functions for galectins. Unfortunately, some genetically manipulable model systems such as Caenorhabditis elegans may have more galectins than mammals. Recently, galectins were identified in two well-studied insect systems, Drosophila melanogaster and Anopheles gambiae. In addition to the powerful genetic manipulation available in these insect models, there is a sophisticated understanding of many biological processes in these organisms that can be directly compared and applied to mammalian systems. Understanding the roles of galectins in insects may provide insight into precise functions of galectins in mammals.

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