Metastasis of human colon cancer is altered by modifying expression of the beta-galactoside-binding protein galectin 3

Gastroenterology. 1998 Aug;115(2):287-96. doi: 10.1016/s0016-5085(98)70195-7.


Background & aims: Galectin 3 is a beta-galactoside-binding protein whose expression has been correlated with advanced tumor stage in the colon, but direct evidence for a role in metastasis is lacking. The current study was designed to more directly establish the role of galectin 3 in colon cancer metastasis.

Methods: Galectin 3 levels were manipulated in human colon cancer cells using eukaryotic expression constructs designed to express the complete galectin 3 complementary DNA in either the sense or antisense orientation. Liver colonization was assessed in athymic mice after splenic-portal inoculation or after spontaneous metastasis during cecal growth.

Results: Introduction of galectin 3 antisense into metastatic colon cancer cells (LSLiM6, HM7) resulted in a significant reduction in galectin 3-specific messenger RNA and total and cell surface galectin 3 protein. Conversely, stable integration of galectin 3 in the sense orientation resulted in an increase in cellular and cell surface galectin 3 in cells of low metastatic potential (LS174T). Reduction in galectin 3 levels was associated with a marked decrease in liver colonization and spontaneous metastasis by LSLiM6 and HM7 cells, whereas up-regulation of galectin 3 resulted in increased metastasis by LS174T cells.

Conclusions: This study provides direct evidence that galectin 3 plays an important role in colon cancer metastasis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism*
  • Adenocarcinoma / secondary*
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Differentiation / metabolism*
  • Antisense Elements (Genetics) / genetics
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Colonic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Galactosides / metabolism*
  • Galectin 3
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Transfection / genetics
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antigens, Differentiation
  • Antisense Elements (Genetics)
  • Galactosides
  • Galectin 3
  • beta-galactoside