Galectin-12 in cellular differentiation, apoptosis and polarization

Lei Wan, Ri Yao Yang, Fu-Tong Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Galectin-12 is a member of a family of mammalian lectins characterized by their affinity for β-galactosides and consensus amino acid sequences. The protein structure consists of a single polypeptide chain containing two carbohydrate-recognition domains joined by a linker region. Galectin-12 is predominantly expressed in adipose tissue, but is also detected in macrophages and other leukocytes. Downregulation of galectin-12 in mouse 3T3-L1 cells impairs their differentiation into adipocytes. Conversely, overexpression of galectin-12 in vitro induces cell cycle arrest in G1 and apoptosis. Upregulation of galectin-12 and initiation of G1 cell cycle arrest are associated with driving pre-adipocytes toward terminal differentiation. Galectin-12 deficiency increases insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance in obese animals. Galectin-12 inhibits macrophage polarization to the M2 population, enhancing inflammation and decreasing insulin sensitivity in adipocytes. Galectin-12 also affects myeloid differentiation, which is associated with chemotherapy resistance. In addition to highlighting the above-mentioned aspects, this review also discusses the potential clinical applications of modulating the function of galectin-12.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number176
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 7 2018


  • Adipogenesis
  • Cellular plasticity
  • Differentiation
  • Galectin-12

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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