Galectin-3 is a member of a protein family defined by having at least one characteristic carbohydrate-recognition domain (CRD) with an affinity for β-galactosides and sharing certain conserved sequence elements. Galectins are soluble 14-36 kDa proteins and 11 have been identified in mammals, 3 in birds, and many in other species including frogs, fish, worms, a marine sponge, and a fungus. Galectin specificity at a molecular level is determined by recognition of a distinct glyco-conjugate, which triggers diverse biological reactions. The same galectin species seems to participate in development, differentiation, morphogenesis, immunity, apoptosis, metastasis of malignant cells, angiogenesis etc. Therefore, a complete understanding of the physiological functions of galectins still has not been achieved. Following is an overview of the studies performed in our and other laboratories on the role of galectin-3 in metastasis, angiogenesis and apoptosis.
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