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J Biol Chem. 2011 Feb 11;286(6):4371-81. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.188581. Epub 2010 Nov 29.

Caenorhabditis elegans galectins LEC-6 and LEC-10 interact with similar glycoconjugates in the intestine.

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  • 1New England Biolabs, Inc, Ipswich, Massachusetts 01938, USA.


Galectins are a family of metazoan proteins that show binding to various β-galactoside-containing glycans. Because of a lack of proper tools, the interaction of galectins with their specific glycan ligands in the cells and tissues are largely unknown. We have investigated the localization of galectin ligands in Caenorhabditis elegans using a novel technology that relies on the high binding specificity between galectins and their endogenous ligands. Fluorescently labeled recombinant galectin fusions are found to bind to ligands located in diverse tissues including the intestine, pharynx, and the rectal valve. Consistent with their role as galactoside-binding proteins, the interaction with their ligands is inhibited by galactose or lactose. Two of the galectins, LEC-6 and LEC-10, recognize ligands that co-localize along the intestinal lumen. The ligands for LEC-6 and LEC-10 are absent in three glycosylation mutants bre-1, fut-8, and galt-1, which have been shown to be required to synthesize the Gal-β1,4-Fuc modifications of the core N-glycans unique to C. elegans and several other invertebrates. Both galectins pull down the same set of glycoproteins in a manner dependent on the presence of these carbohydrate modifications. Endogenous LEC-6 and LEC-10 are expressed in the intestinal cells, but they are localized to different subcellular compartments that do not appear to overlap with each other or with the location of their glycan targets. An altered subcellular distribution of these ligands is found in mutants lacking both galectins. These results suggest a model where LEC-6 and LEC-10 interact with glycoproteins through specific glycans to regulate their cellular fate.

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