The inflammatory response is a self-limiting process which involves the sequential activation of signaling pathways leading to the production of both pro- and anti-inflammatory mediators. Galectin-1 (Gal-1), an endogenous lectin found in peripheral lymphoid organs and inflammatory sites, elicits a broad spectrum of biological functions predominantly by acting as a potent anti-inflammatory factor and as a suppressive agent for T-cell responses. However, the molecular pathways underlying Gal-1 expression and function remain poorly understood. Here we identified a regulatory loop linking Gal-1 expression and function to NF-κB activation. NF-κB-activating stimuli increased Gal-1 expression on T cells, an effect which could be selectively prevented by inhibitors of NF-κB signaling. Accordingly, transient transfection of the p65 subunit of NF-κB was sufficient to induce high Gal-1 expression. Using in silico studies and chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis we have identified a functional NF-κB binding site within the first intron of the LGALS1 gene. In addition, our results show that exogenous Gal-1 can attenuate NF-κB activation, as shown by inhibition of IκB-α degradation induced by pro-inflammatory stimuli, higher cytoplasmic retention of p65, lower NF-κB DNA binding activity and impaired transcriptional activation of target genes. The present study suggest a novel regulatory loop by which NF-κB induces expression of Gal-1, which in turn may lead to negative control of NF-κB signaling.
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