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Galectins are a family of soluble β-galactoside-binding proteins with diverse glycan-dependent and glycan-independent functions outside and inside the cell. Human cells express twelve out of sixteen recognized mammalian galectin genes and their expression profiles are very different between cell types and tissues. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge on the changes in the expression of individual galectins at mRNA and protein levels in different types of differentiating cells and the effects of recombinant galectins on cellular differentiation. A new model of galectin regulation is proposed considering the change in O-GlcNAc homeostasis between progenitor/stem cells and mature differentiated cells. The recognition of galectins as regulatory factors controlling cell differentiation and self-renewal is essential for developmental and cancer biology to develop innovative strategies for prevention and targeted treatment of proliferative diseases, tissue regeneration, and stem-cell therapy.


Rada Tazhitdinova, Alexander V Timoshenko. The Emerging Role of Galectins and O-GlcNAc Homeostasis in Processes of Cellular Differentiation. Cells. 2020 Jul 28;9(8)

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PMID: 32731422

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