Full-Length Galectin-3 Is Required for High Affinity Microbial Interactions and Antimicrobial Activity


Wu S-C, Ho AD, Kamili NA, Wang J, Murdock KL, Cummings RD, Arthur CM, Stowell SR. Full-Length Galectin-3 Is Required for High Affinity Microbial Interactions and Antimicrobial Activity. Front Microbiol. 2021;12 :731026.

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While adaptive immunity enables the recognition of a wide range of microbial antigens, immunological tolerance limits reactively toward self to reduce autoimmunity. Some bacteria decorate themselves with self-like antigens as a form of molecular mimicry to limit recognition by adaptive immunity. Recent studies suggest that galectin-4 (Gal-4) and galectin-8 (Gal-8) may provide a unique form of innate immunity against molecular mimicry by specifically targeting microbes that decorate themselves in self-like antigens. However, the binding specificity and antimicrobial activity of many human galectins remain incompletely explored. In this study, we defined the binding specificity of galectin-3 (Gal-3), the first galectin shown to engage microbial glycans. Gal-3 exhibited high binding toward mammalian blood group A, B, and αGal antigens in a glycan microarray format. In the absence of the N-terminal domain, the C-terminal domain of Gal-3 (Gal-3C) alone exhibited a similar overall binding pattern, but failed to display the same level of binding for glycans over a range of concentrations. Similar to the recognition of mammalian glycans, Gal-3 and Gal-3C also specifically engaged distinct microbial glycans isolated and printed in a microarray format, with Gal-3 exhibiting higher binding at lower concentrations toward microbial glycans than Gal-3C. Importantly, Gal-3 and Gal-3C interactions on the microbial microarray accurately predicted actual interactions toward intact microbes, with Gal-3 and Gal-3C displaying carbohydrate-dependent binding toward distinct strains of Providentia alcalifaciens and Klebsiella pneumoniae that express mammalian-like antigens, while failing to recognize similar strains that express unrelated antigens. While both Gal-3 and Gal-3C recognized specific strains of P. alcalifaciens and K. pneumoniae, only Gal-3 was able to exhibit antimicrobial activity even when evaluated at higher concentrations. These results demonstrate that while Gal-3 and Gal-3C specifically engage distinct mammalian and microbial glycans, Gal-3C alone does not possess antimicrobial activity.