Nucleocytoplasmic lectins

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2004 Jul 6;1673(1-2):75-93. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2004.03.013.


This review summarizes studies on lectins that have been documented to be in the cytoplasm and nucleus of cells. Of these intracellular lectins, the most extensively studied are members of the galectin family. Galectin-1 and galectin-3 have been identified as pre-mRNA splicing factors in the nucleus, in conjunction with their interacting ligand, Gemin4. Galectin-3, -7, and -12 regulate growth, cell cycle progression, and apoptosis. Bcl-2 and synexin have been identified as interacting ligands of galectin-3, involved in its anti-apoptotic activity in the cytoplasm. Although the annexins have been studied mostly as calcium-dependent phospholipid-binding proteins mediating membrane-membrane and membrane-cytoskeleton interactions, annexins A4, A5 and A6 also bind to carbohydrate structures. Like the galectins, certain members of the annexin family can be found both inside and outside cells. In particular, annexins A1, A2, A4, A5, and A11 can be found in the nucleus. This localization is consistent with the findings that annexin A1 possesses unwinding and annealing activities of a helicase and that annexin A2 is associated with a primer recognition complex that enhances the activity of DNA polymerase alpha. Despite these efforts and accomplishments, however, there is little evidence or information on an endogenous carbohydrate ligand for these lectins that show nuclear and/or cytoplasmic localization. Thus, the significance of the carbohydrate-binding activity of any particular intracellular lectin remains as a challenge for future investigations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Annexins / metabolism
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism*
  • Galectins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lectins / metabolism*
  • Ligands


  • Annexins
  • Galectins
  • Lectins
  • Ligands