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.