Roles of galectins in infection

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2009 Jun;7(6):424-38. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2146.


Galectins, which were first characterized in the mid-1970s, were assigned a role in the recognition of endogenous ('self') carbohydrate ligands in embryogenesis, development and immune regulation. Recently, however, galectins have been shown to bind glycans on the surface of potentially pathogenic microorganisms, and function as recognition and effector factors in innate immunity. Some parasites subvert the recognition roles of the vector or host galectins to ensure successful attachment or invasion. This Review discusses the role of galectins in microbial infection, with particular emphasis on adaptations of pathogens to evasion or subversion of host galectin-mediated immune responses.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Infections / immunology*
  • Galectins / chemistry
  • Galectins / immunology*
  • Galectins / metabolism
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / immunology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / physiology
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Oligosaccharides / chemistry
  • Oligosaccharides / metabolism
  • Protein Binding


  • Galectins
  • Oligosaccharides