Evaluation of the Bactericidal Activity of Galectins
Over a century ago, Karl Landsteiner discovered that blood group antigens could predict the immunological outcome of red blood cell transfusion. While the discovery of ABO(H) blood group antigens revolutionized transfusion medicine, many questions remain regarding the development and regulation of naturally occurring anti-blood group antibody formation. Early studies suggested that blood group antibodies develop following stimulation by bacteria that express blood group antigens. While this may explain the development of anti-blood group antibodies in blood group negative individuals, how blood group positive individuals, who cannot generate anti-blood group antibodies, protect themselves against blood group positive microbes remained unknown. Recent studies suggest that several members of the galectin family specifically target blood group positive microbes, thereby providing innate immune protection against blood group antigen positive microbes regardless of the blood group status of an individual. Importantly, subsequent studies suggest that this unique form of immunity may not be limited to blood group expressing microbes, but may reflect a more generalized form of innate immunity against molecular mimicry. As this form of antimicrobial activity represents a unique and unprecedented form of immunity, we will examine important considerations and methodological approaches that can be used when seeking to ascertain the potential antimicrobial activity of various members of the galectin family.
Key wordsGalectin Blood group positive microbes Innate immune lectin Molecular mimicry Antimicrobial
This work was supported in part by grants from the National Blood Foundation, American Society of Hematology and Hemophilia of Georgia to S.R.S.
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