The Role of Galectin-1 in Cancer Progression, and Synthetic Multivalent Systems for the Study of Galectin-1

Int J Mol Sci. 2016 Sep 16;17(9):1566. doi: 10.3390/ijms17091566.


This review discusses the role of galectin-1 in the tumor microenvironment. First, the structure and function of galectin-1 are discussed. Galectin-1, a member of the galectin family of lectins, is a functionally dimeric galactoside-binding protein. Although galectin-1 has both intracellular and extracellular functions, the defining carbohydrate-binding role occurs extracellularly. In this review, the extracellular roles of galectin-1 in cancer processes are discussed. In particular, the importance of multivalent interactions in galectin-1 mediated cellular processes is reviewed. Multivalent interactions involving galectin-1 in cellular adhesion, mobility and invasion, tumor-induced angiogenesis, and apoptosis are presented. Although the mechanisms of action of galectin-1 in these processes are still not well understood, the overexpression of galectin-1 in cancer progression indicates that the role of galectin-1 is significant. To conclude this review, synthetic frameworks that have been used to modulate galectin-1 processes are reviewed. Small molecule oligomers of carbohydrates, carbohydrate-functionalized pseudopolyrotaxanes, cyclodextrins, calixarenes, and glycodendrimers are presented. These synthetic multivalent systems serve as important tools for studying galectin-1 mediated cancer cellular functions.

Keywords: dendrimer; galectin-1; galectins; glycodendrimer; multivalent.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cyclodextrins / chemistry
  • Cyclodextrins / metabolism
  • Dendrimers / chemistry
  • Dendrimers / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Galectin 1 / genetics
  • Galectin 1 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic
  • Poloxamer / chemistry
  • Poloxamer / metabolism
  • Rotaxanes / chemistry
  • Rotaxanes / metabolism
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • Cyclodextrins
  • Dendrimers
  • Galectin 1
  • Rotaxanes
  • pseudopolyrotaxane
  • Poloxamer