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Mol Biol Evol. 2004 Jul;21(7):1177-87. Epub 2004 Feb 12.

Phylogenetic analysis of the vertebrate galectin family.

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Laboratoire de Genetique et Developpement des Mammiferes, Institut Jacques Monod, Paris, France.


Galectins form a family of structurally related carbohydrate binding proteins (lectins) that have been identified in a large variety of metazoan phyla. They are involved in many biological processes such as morphogenesis, control of cell death, immunological response, and cancer. To elucidate the evolutionary history of galectins and galectin-like proteins in chordates, we have exploited three independent lines of evidence: (i) location of galectin encoding genes (LGALS) in the human genome; (ii) exon-intron organization of galectin encoding genes; and (iii) sequence comparison of carbohydrate recognition domains (CRDs) of chordate galectins. Our results suggest that a duplication of a mono-CRD galectin gene gave rise to an original bi-CRD galectin gene, before or early in chordate evolution. The N-terminal and C-terminal CRDs of this original galectin subsequently diverged into two different subtypes, defined by exon-intron structure (F4-CRD and F3-CRD). We show that all vertebrate mono-CRD galectins known to date belong to either the F3- or F4- subtype. A sequence of duplication and divergence events of the different galectins in chordates is proposed.

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