Galectins are an endogenous family of β-galactoside-binding proteins that play complex and multifaceted roles at various stages of cancer progression, including modulation of tumor cell proliferation, signaling, adhesion, migration, invasion, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, angiogenesis, and immune escape. Recently, galectins have been implicated as major therapeutic determinants that confer sensitivity or resistance to a wide range of anticancer modalities including chemotherapy, radiotherapy, targeted therapies, antiangiogenic therapies, and immunotherapies. Here, we present an integrated approach to the pleiotropic functions of galectins and discuss their emerging roles with respect to mechanisms of resistance or sensitivity to anticancer therapies. Taken together, these findings suggest that targeting galectins and/or their glycosylated ligands may help to overcome resistance and to increase the clinical efficacy of anticancer strategies.
©2020 American Association for Cancer Research.