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Galectins: a key intersection between glycobiology and immunology.

Braz J Med Biol Res 1999 Apr;32(4):383-93

Rabinovich GA, Riera CM, Landa CA, Sotomayor CE.

Galectins are a family of evolutionarily conserved animal lectins, widely distributed from lower invertebrates to mammals. They share sequence and structure similarities in the carbohydrate recognition domain and specificity for polylactosamine-enriched glycoconjugates. In the last few years significant experimental data have been accumulated concerning their participation in different biological processes requiring carbohydrate recognition such as cell adhesion, cell growth regulation, inflammation, immunomodulation, apoptosis and metastasis. In the present review we will discuss some exciting questions and advances in galectin research, highlighting the significance of these proteins in immunological processes and their implications in biomedical research, disease diagnosis and clinical intervention. Designing novel therapeutic strategies based on carbohydrate recognition will provide answers for the treatment of autoimmune disorders, inflammatory processes, allergic reactions and tumor spreading.

Galectins, or 'animal lectins' as they have sometimes been called, have emerged as a new family of closely related carbohydrate-binding proteins, which exert their functions by virtue of their ability to decipher glycocodes on complex glycoconjugates. They have been implicated in different immunological processes, such as lymphocyte adhesion, cytokine production, cell growth regulation, apoptosis (programmed cell death) and central and peripheral immune tolerance. For the next few days we'll be looking at what is known about the twelve human galectins.

The Ask Dr. D'Adamo internet advice column ran from 1996 to 2009, at which time Dr. D'Adamo's teaching and programming responsibilities no longer allowed him to devote time and resources to directly answering visitor questions. However we've recently reorganized this treasure-trove of material and made it again available to his readership. He occasionally posts new entries. These are marked with a NEW tag.

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