Galectins are a new family of animal lectins which appear to exhibit a variety of biological functions. Lectins, of either plant or animal origin, are carbohydrate binding proteins that interact with glycoprotein and glycolipids on the surface of animal cells. The Galectins are lectins that recognize and interact with beta-galactoside moieties. Galectin 3 is one of the more extensively studied members of this family and is a 30 kDa protein.
Galectin 3 is normally distributed in epithelia of many organs, in various inflammatory cells, including macrophages, as well as microglia, dendritic cells and Kupffer cells. The expression of this lectin is up-regulated during inflammation, cell proliferation, cell differentiation and through trans-activation by viral proteins making it useful for the study of immune response, diabetes, tumorigenesis and neurogenesis
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