Galectin-3 binds selectively to the terminal, non-reducing end of β(1→4)-galactans, with overall affinity increasing with chain length

Michelle C. Miller, Yi Zheng, Yifa Zhou, Guihua Tai, Kevin H. Mayo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Galactans are linear polysaccharides of β(1→4)-linked galactose residues. Although they can antagonize galectin function, the nature of their binding to galectins needs to be better defined to develop them as drugs. Here, we investigated interactions between galectin-3 (Gal-3) and a series of galactans ranging in weight average molecular weight from 670 to 7550 Da. 15N-1H HSQC NMR studies with 15N-labeled Gal-3 carbohydrate recognition domain (CRD) indicate that each of these galactans interacts primarily with residues in β-strands 4, 5 and 6 on the canonical, β-galactoside sugar binding S-face. Although these galactans also bind to full length Gal-3 (CRD plus N-terminal tail) to the same extent, it appears that binding to the S-face attenuates interactions between the CRD F-face and N-terminal tail, making interpretation of site-specific binding unclear. Following assignment of galactan 13C and 1H resonances using HSQC, HMBC and TOCSY experiments, we used 13C-1H HSQC data to demonstrate that the Gal-3 CRD binds to the terminal, non-reducing end of these galactans, regardless of their size, but with binding affinity increasing as the galactan chain length increases. Overall, our findings increase understanding as to how galactans interact with Gal-3 at the non-reducing, terminal end of galactose-containing polysaccharides as found on the cell surface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-84
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grants 31370805 and 31170770). The NMR instrumentation was provided by funds from the US National Science Foundation (BIR-961477), the University of Minnesota Medical School, and the Minnesota Medical Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Glycobiology. All rights reserved.


  • HSQC
  • NMR
  • galactan
  • galectin-3
  • polysaccharide
  • Molecular Weight
  • Humans
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular
  • Galactans/chemistry
  • Galectin 3/chemistry

PubMed: MeSH publication types

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


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