Apoptosis of T cells mediated by galectin-1

Nature. 1995 Dec 14;378(6558):736-9. doi: 10.1038/378736a0.


Galectin-1, a member of the family of beta-galactoside binding proteins, has growth regulatory and immunomodulatory activities. We report here that galectin-1, expressed by stromal cells in human thymus and lymph nodes, is present at sites of cell death by apoptosis during normal T-cell development and maturation. Galectin-1 induced apoptosis of activated human T cells and human T leukaemia cell lines. Resting T cells also bound galectin-1, but did not undergo apoptosis. Human endothelial cells that expressed galectin-1 induced apoptosis of bound T cells. Galectin-1-induced apoptosis required expression of CD45, and was decreased when N-glycan elongation was blocked by treatment of the cells by swainsonine, whereas inhibition of O-glycan elongation potentiated the apoptotic effect of galectin-1. Induction of apoptosis by an endogenous mammalian lectin represents a new mechanism for regulating the immune response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD*
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Endothelium, Vascular / cytology
  • Galectin 1
  • Hemagglutinins / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lectins / physiology*
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens / physiology
  • Leukosialin
  • Sialoglycoproteins / physiology
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antigens, CD
  • Galectin 1
  • Hemagglutinins
  • Lectins
  • Leukosialin
  • Sialoglycoproteins
  • UN1 sialoglycoprotein, human
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens