Galectin-3 is a mammalian β-galactoside-binding protein that is expressed by various types of human cells. Changes in galectin-3 expression and subcellular and intercellular localizations are commonly seen in cancer and pre-cancerous conditions. It is increasingly recognized that galectin-3 is an important regulator of a broad range of cancer cell activities and plays important roles in cancer cell growth, transformation, apoptosis, angiogenesis, adhesion, invasion and metastasis. Such a divergent influence of galectin-3 on cancer cell activities derives from its multiple inter- and sub-cellular localizations where it interacts with a range of different binding partners. This mini-review summaries the diverse influences of galectin-3 on cancer cell behaviours with particular emphasis on its role in tumorigenesis and metastasis.
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