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Glycobiology. 2014 Oct;24(10):886-91. doi: 10.1093/glycob/cwu086. Epub 2014 Aug 18.

Galectin-3 in angiogenesis and metastasis.

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Nanzando Pharmacies Co., Takanawa, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0074, Japan.
Department of Oncology, Karmanos Cancer Institute, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48201.
Department of Internal Medicine, Karmanos Cancer Institute, Wayne State University, John D. Dingell VA Medical Center, Detroit, MI 48201


Galectin-3 is a member of the family of β-galactoside-binding lectins characterized by evolutionarily conserved sequences defined by structural similarities in their carbohydrate-recognition domains. Galectin-3 is a unique, chimeric protein consisting of three distinct structural motifs: (i) a short NH2 terminal domain containing a serine phosphorylation site; (ii) a repetitive proline-rich collagen-α-like sequence cleavable by matrix metalloproteases; and (iii) a globular COOH-terminal domain containing a carbohydrate-binding motif and an NWGR anti-death motif. It is ubiquitously expressed and has diverse biological functions depending on its subcellular localization. Galectin-3 is mainly found in the cytoplasm, also seen in the nucleus and can be secreted by non-classical, secretory pathways. In general, secreted galectin-3 mediates cell migration, cell adhesion and cell-cell interactions through the binding with high affinity to galactose-containing glycoproteins on the cell surface. Cytoplasmic galectin-3 exhibits anti-apoptotic activity and regulates several signal transduction pathways, whereas nuclear galectin-3 has been associated with pre-mRNA splicing and gene expression. Its unique chimeric structure enables it to interact with a plethora of ligands and modulate diverse functions such as cell growth, adhesion, migration, invasion, angiogenesis, immune function, apoptosis and endocytosis emphasizing its significance in the process of tumor progression. In this review, we have focused on the role of galectin-3 in tumor metastasis with special emphasis on angiogenesis.


angiogenesis; galectin-3; metastasis

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