Osteoclasts or their precursors interact with the glycoprotein-enriched matrix of bone during extravasation from the vasculature, and upon attachment prior to resorption. Reverse transcriptase-PCR studies showed that two new alternatively spliced forms of chicken galectin-3, termed Gal-3TM1 and Gal-3TR1, were enriched and preferentially expressed in highly purified chicken osteoclast-like cells. Gal-3TM1 and Gal-3TR1 mRNA were also detected in chicken intestinal tissue, but not in kidney, liver, or lung. Gal-3TM1 and Gal-3TR1 messages both contain an open reading frame encoding a predicted 70-amino acid TM1 sequence inserted between the N-terminal Gly/Pro repeat domain and the carbohydrate recognition domain (exons 3 and 4). Gal-3TR1 mRNA contains an additional 241-bp sequence, which encodes a truncated open reading frame between the 4th and 5th exons, and, whose translation is expected to terminate within the carbohydrate recognition domain encompassing exons 4, 5, and 6. Immunoblotting and affinity chromatography showed that purified osteoclast preparations and intestinal homogenates contained a 36-kDa lactose-binding galectin. Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometric analyses on chymotryptic peptides from the 36-kDa lectin confirmed its identity as Gal-3TM1. The TM1 insert contains a single transmembrane-spanning region and a leucine zipper-like stalk domain that is predicted to position the intact carbohydrate recognition domain of Gal-3TM1 on the exterior surface of the plasma membrane. Immunofluorescent staining of chicken osteoclasts confirmed the expression of Gal-3TM1 at the plasma membrane. Gal-3TM1 is the first example of a galectin super-family member capable of being expressed as a soluble protein and as a transmembrane protein.
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