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J Cell Sci. 2011 Jul 15;124(Pt 14):2438-47. doi: 10.1242/jcs.079954. Epub 2011 Jun 21.

Galectin-3 maintains cell motility from the subventricular zone to the olfactory bulb.

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Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QX, UK.


The adult brain subventricular zone (SVZ) produces neuroblasts that migrate through the rostral migratory stream (RMS) to the olfactory bulb (OB) in a specialized niche. Galectin-3 (Gal-3) regulates proliferation and migration in cancer and is expressed by activated macrophages after brain injury. The function of Gal-3 in the normal brain is unknown, but we serendipitously found that it was expressed by ependymal cells and SVZ astrocytes in uninjured mice. Ependymal cilia establish chemotactic gradients and astrocytes form glial tubes, which combine to aid neuroblast migration. Whole-mount preparations and electron microscopy revealed that both ependymal cilia and SVZ astrocytes were disrupted in Gal3(-/-) mice. Interestingly, far fewer new BrdU(+) neurons were found in the OB of Gal3(-/-) mice, than in wild-type mice 2 weeks after labeling. However, SVZ proliferation and cell death, as well as OB differentiation rates were unaltered. This suggested that decreased migration in vivo was sufficient to decrease the number of new OB neurons. Two-photon time-lapse microscopy in forebrain slices confirmed decreased migration; cells were slower and more exploratory in Gal3(-/-) mice. Gal-3 blocking antibodies decreased migration and dissociated neuroblast cell-cell contacts, whereas recombinant Gal-3 increased migration from explants. Finally, we showed that expression of phosphorylated epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) was increased in Gal3(-/-) mice. These results suggest that Gal-3 is important in SVZ neuroblast migration, possibly through an EGFR-based mechanism, and reveals a role for this lectin in the uninjured brain.

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