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Drug Resist Updat. 2007 Jun;10(3):101-8. Epub 2007 Jun 4.

The role of galectin-3 in cancer drug resistance.

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Department of Urology, Institute of Health Biosciences, The University of Tokushima Graduate School, Tokushima 770-8503, Japan.


The galectins comprise a family of 14 members of beta-galactoside-binding proteins, characterized by their affinity for beta-galactosides and by a conserved sequence in the carbohydrate recognition domain that bind to the carbohydrate portion of cell surface glycoproteins or glycolipids. Galectin-3, a 31kDa gene product, is a multifunctional oncogenic protein which regulates cell growth, cell adhesion, cell proliferation, angiogenesis, and apoptosis. Recent studies have revealed that galectin-3 demonstrates anti-apoptotic effects which contribute to cell survival in several types of cancer cells. Intracellular galectin-3 in particular, which contains the NWGR anti-death motif of the Bcl-2 family, inhibits cell apoptosis induced by chemotherapeutic agent such as cisplatin and etoposide in some types of cancer cells. We have also reported that nuclear export of phosphorylated galectin-3 regulates its anti-apoptotic activity in response to chemotherapeutic drugs. Here, we will describe the role of galectin-3 as an anti-apoptotic factor in response to chemotherapeutic drugs and will discuss recent data on its molecular mechanism that contribute to drug resistance. We suggest that targeting galectin-3 could improve the efficacy of anticancer drug chemotherapy in several types of cancer.

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