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J Immunol. 2006 Jul 15;177(2):1289-95.

Human monocytes recognize porcine endothelium via the interaction of galectin 3 and alpha-GAL.

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Division of Thoracic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, University Health Network, University of Toronto, 200 Elizabeth Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Monocytes are one of the key inflammatory cells recruited to xenografts and play an important role in delayed xenograft rejection. Previous studies have demonstrated the ability of monocytes to bind to the major xenoantigen Gal-alpha(1,3)Gal-beta(1,4)GlcNAc-R; however, the receptor that mediates this interaction has yet to be identified. We provide evidence that it is Galectin-3, a approximately 30-kDa lectin that recognizes beta-galactosides (Gal-beta(1-3/4)GlcNAc) and plays diverse roles in many physiological and pathological events. Human monocyte binding is strikingly increased on porcine aortic endothelial cells (PAEC), which express high levels of Gal-alpha(1,3)Gal-beta(1,4)GlcNAc-R, compared with human aortic endothelial cells. Human monocytes obtained from healthy donors bind to Gal-alpha(1,3)Gal-beta(1,4)GlcNAc-R at variable intensities. This variation of binding intensity was consistent and reproducible in individual donors. Galectin-3 is mainly expressed in human monocytes, not lymphocytes. Purified Galectin-3 is able to bind directly to Gal-alpha(1,3)Gal-beta(1,4)GlcNAc-R. Galectin-3 can also be affinity isolated from monocytes (and not lymphocytes) using an Gal-alpha(1,3)Gal-beta(1,4)GlcNAc-R-biotin/streptavidin-bead pull-down system. Soluble Galectin-3 binds preferentially to PAEC vs human aortic endothelial cells, and this binding can be inhibited by lactose, indicating dependence on the carbohydrate recognition domain of Galectin-3. Gal-alpha(1,3)Gal-beta(1,4)GlcNAc-R is at least partly responsible for this phenomenon, as binding decreased after digestion of PAEC with alpha-galactosidase. Furthermore, monocytes pretreated with a blocking anti-Galectin-3 Ab show decreased adhesion to PAEC when compared with isotype control in a parallel plate flow chamber perfusion assay. Thus, we conclude that Galectin-3 expressed in human monocytes is a receptor for the major xenoantigen (Gal-alpha(1,3)Gal-beta(1,4)GlcNAc-R), expressed on porcine endothelial cells.

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