, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 267–275 | Cite as

On the role of galectin-3 in cancer apoptosis



Galectin-3, a member of the β-galactoside-binding gene family, is a multifunctional protein implicated in a variety of biological functions, including tumor cell adhesion, proliferation, differentiation, angiogenesis, cancer progression and metastasis. Recent studies revealed that intracellular galectin-3 exhibits the activity to suppress drug induced apoptosis and anoikis (apoptosis induced by the loss of cell anchorage) that contribute to cell survival. Resistance to apoptosis is essential for cancer cell survival and plays a role in tumor progression. Conversely, it was recently shown that tumor cells’ secreted galectin-3 induces T-cells’ apoptosis, thus playing a role in the immune escape mechanism during tumor progression through induction of apoptosis of cancer-infiltrating T-cells. This review summarizes recent evidences on the role of galectin-3 as an anti-apoptotic and/or pro-apoptotic factor in various cell types and discusses the recent understanding of the molecular mechanisms of galectin-3 role in apoptosis. We also suggest potential directions for further analyses of this multifunctional protein.


apoptosis extracellular galectin-3 phosphorylation T-cell 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tumor Progression and Metastasis Program, Karmanos Cancer InstituteWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA

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