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Int J Cancer. 2011 Jul 1;129(1):1-8. doi: 10.1002/ijc.25945.

The role of galectins in colorectal cancer progression.

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Department of Gastroenterology, Institute of Translational Medicine, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom.


Galectins constitute a family of 15 mammalian galactoside-binding proteins that share a consensus amino acid sequence in their carbohydrate binding sites. They are multi-functional molecules and are expressed widely in human tissues. Four galectins: galectin -1, -3, -4 and -8 are expressed in the human colon and rectum and their expressions show significant changes during colorectal cancer development and metastasis. These changes in galectin expression correlate with alterations in cancer cell growth, apoptosis, cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions and angiogenesis. This review summaries current knowledge of the expression and roles of these galectins in the progression of human colorectal cancer and discusses the relevance of galectins and their ligands as potential therapeutic targets for cancer treatment.

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