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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2007 Aug 3;359(3):672-8. Epub 2007 Jun 4.

Role of galectin-3 in prion infections of the CNS.

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Project Neurodegenerative Diseases, Robert-Koch-Institut, Nordufer 20, 13353 Berlin, Germany.


Galectin-3 is a multi-functional protein and participates in mediating inflammatory reactions. The pronounced overexpression of galectin-3 in prion-infected brain tissue prompted us to study the role of this protein in a murine prion model. Immunofluorescence double-labelling identified microglia as the major cell type expressing galectin-3. Ablation of galectin-3 did not affect PrP(Sc)-deposition and development of gliosis. However, galectin-3(-/-)-mice showed prolonged survival times upon intracerebral and peripheral scrapie infections. Moreover, protein levels of the lysosomal activation marker LAMP-2 were markedly reduced in prion-infected galectin-3(-/-)-mice suggesting a role of galectin-3 in regulation of lysosomal functions. Lower mRNA levels of Beclin-1 and Atg5 in prion-infected wild-type and galectin-3(-/-)-mice indicated an impairment of autophagy although autophagosome formation was unchanged. The results point towards a detrimental role of galectin-3 in prion infections of the CNS and suggest that endo-/lysosomal dysfunction in combination with reduced autophagy may contribute to disease development.

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