Regulatory roles of galectins in the immune response

Fu-Tong Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

157 Scopus citations


Galectins are a family of animal lectins with affinity for β-galactosides. They are differentially expressed by various immune cells and their expression levels appear to be dependent on cell differentiation and activation. They can interact with cell-surface and extracellular matrix glycoconjugates (glycoproteins and glycolipids), through lectin-carbohydrate interactions. Through this action, they can promote cell growth, affect cell survival, modulate cell adhesions, and induce cell migration. They appear to do so by binding to different glycoconjugates decorated by suitable saccharides, rather than through specific receptors. Galectins do not have a classical signal peptide and are often localized in intracellular compartments, including the nucleus. Intracellularly, they can regulate cell growth and survival by interacting with cytoplasmic and nuclear proteins, through protein-protein interactions, thereby affecting intracellular signaling pathways. Current research indicates that galectins play important roles in the immune response through regulating the homeostasis and functions of the immune cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-400
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Archives of Allergy and Immunology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2005


  • Galectins
  • Glycobiology
  • Immune response
  • Lectins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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