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1.  Efficient O‐Functionalization of Carbohydrates with Electrophilic Reagents 
Novel methodology for O‐functionalization of carbohydrate derivatives has been established using bench‐stable and easily prepared iodonium(III) reagents. Both electron‐withdrawing and electron‐donating aryl groups were introduced under ambient conditions and without precautions to exclude air or moisture. Furthermore, the approach was extended both to full arylation of cyclodextrin, and to trifluoroethylation of carbohydrate derivatives. This is the first general approach to introduce traditionally non‐electrophilic groups into any of the OH groups around the sugar backbone. The methodology will be useful both in synthetic organic chemistry and biochemistry, as important functional groups can be incorporated under simple and robust reaction conditions in a fast and efficient manner.
PMCID: PMC5113792  PMID: 27528184
arylation; carbohydrates; electrophilic addition; fluorine; hypervalent compounds
2.  Perdeuteration, crystallization, data collection and comparison of five neutron diffraction data sets of complexes of human galectin-3C 
Perdeuteration, purification and the growth of large crystals of the carbohydrate-recognition domain of galectin-3C are described. Five neutron diffraction data sets have been collected at four neutron sources; these are compared and two are merged.
Galectin-3 is an important protein in molecular signalling events involving carbohydrate recognition, and an understanding of the hydrogen-bonding patterns in the carbohydrate-binding site of its C-terminal domain (galectin-3C) is important for the development of new potent inhibitors. The authors are studying these patterns using neutron crystallography. Here, the production of perdeuterated human galectin-3C and successive improvement in crystal size by the development of a crystal-growth protocol involving feeding of the crystallization drops are described. The larger crystals resulted in improved data quality and reduced data-collection times. Furthermore, protocols for complete removal of the lactose that is necessary for the production of large crystals of apo galectin-3C suitable for neutron diffraction are described. Five data sets have been collected at three different neutron sources from galectin-3C crystals of various volumes. It was possible to merge two of these to generate an almost complete neutron data set for the galectin-3C–lactose complex. These data sets provide insights into the crystal volumes and data-collection times necessary for the same system at sources with different technologies and data-collection strategies, and these insights are applicable to other systems.
PMCID: PMC5108347  PMID: 27841752
neutron crystallography; galectin-3C; perdeuteration; crystallogenesis
4.  Low or No Inhibitory Potency of the Canonical Galectin Carbohydrate-binding Site by Pectins and Galactomannans* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2016;291(25):13318-13334.
Some complex plant-derived polysaccharides, such as modified citrus pectins and galactomannans, have been shown to have promising anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects. Most reports propose or claim that these effects are due to interaction of the polysaccharides with galectins because the polysaccharides contain galactose-containing side chains that might bind this class of lectin. However, their direct binding to and/or inhibition of the evolutionarily conserved galactoside-binding site of galectins has not been demonstrated. Using a well established fluorescence anisotropy assay, we tested the direct interaction of several such polysaccharides with physiological concentrations of a panel of galectins. The bioactive pectic samples tested were very poor inhibitors of the canonical galactoside-binding site for the tested galectins, with IC50 values >10 mg/ml for a few or in most cases no inhibitory activity at all. The galactomannan Davanat® was more active, albeit not a strong inhibitor (IC50 values ranging from 3 to 20 mg/ml depending on the galectin). Pure synthetic oligosaccharide fragments found in the side chains and backbone of pectins and galactomannans were additionally tested. The most commonly found galactan configuration in pectins had no inhibition of the galectins tested. Galactosylated tri- and pentamannosides, representing the structure of Davanat®, had an inhibitory effect of galectins comparable with that of free galactose. Further evaluation using cell-based assays, indirectly linked to galectin-3 inhibition, showed no inhibition of galectin-3 by the polysaccharides. These data suggest that the physiological effects of these plant polysaccharides are not due to inhibition of the canonical galectin carbohydrate-binding site.
PMCID: PMC4933242  PMID: 27129206
cancer therapy; fluorescence anisotropy; galectin; glycobiology; polysaccharide; davanat; galactomannan; hemagglutination; pectasol; pectin
5.  Pathological lymphangiogenesis is modulated by galectin-8-dependent crosstalk between podoplanin and integrin-associated VEGFR-3 
Nature Communications  2016;7:11302.
Lymphangiogenesis plays a pivotal role in diverse pathological conditions. Here, we demonstrate that a carbohydrate-binding protein, galectin-8, promotes pathological lymphangiogenesis. Galectin-8 is markedly upregulated in inflamed human and mouse corneas, and galectin-8 inhibitors reduce inflammatory lymphangiogenesis. In the mouse model of corneal allogeneic transplantation, galectin-8-induced lymphangiogenesis is associated with an increased rate of corneal graft rejection. Further, in the murine model of herpes simplex virus keratitis, corneal pathology and lymphangiogenesis are ameliorated in Lgals8−/− mice. Mechanistically, VEGF-C-induced lymphangiogenesis is significantly reduced in the Lgals8−/− and Pdpn−/− mice; likewise, galectin-8-induced lymphangiogenesis is reduced in Pdpn−/− mice. Interestingly, knockdown of VEGFR-3 does not affect galectin-8-mediated lymphatic endothelial cell (LEC) sprouting. Instead, inhibiting integrins α1β1 and α5β1 curtails both galectin-8- and VEGF-C-mediated LEC sprouting. Together, this study uncovers a unique molecular mechanism of lymphangiogenesis in which galectin-8-dependent crosstalk among VEGF-C, podoplanin and integrin pathways plays a key role.
Pathological lymphangiogenesis is associated with various eye diseases. Here the authors show that a carbohydrate-binding protein, galectin-8, promotes pathological lymphangiogenesis in the eye by regulating the crosstalk among VEGF-C, podoplanin and integrin pathways, and thus may represent a useful therapeutic target.
PMCID: PMC4832077  PMID: 27066737
6.  Structural characterisation of human galectin-4 N-terminal carbohydrate recognition domain in complex with glycerol, lactose, 3′-sulfo-lactose, and 2′-fucosyllactose 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:20289.
Galectin-4 is a tandem-repeat galectin with two distinct carbohydrate recognition domains (CRD). Galectin-4 is expressed mainly in the alimentary tract and is proposed to function as a lipid raft and adherens junction stabilizer by its glycan cross-linking capacity. Galectin-4 plays divergent roles in cancer and inflammatory conditions, either promoting or inhibiting each disease progression, depending on the specific pathological condition. The study of galectin-4’s ligand-binding profile may help decipher its roles under specific conditions. Here we present the X-ray structures of human galectin-4 N-terminal CRD (galectin-4N) bound to different saccharide ligands. Galectin-4’s overall fold and its core interactions to lactose are similar to other galectin CRDs. Galectin-4N recognises the sulfate cap of 3′-sulfated glycans by a weak interaction through Arg45 and two water-mediated hydrogen bonds via Trp84 and Asn49. When galectin-4N interacts with the H-antigen mimic, 2′-fucosyllactose, an interaction is formed between the ring oxygen of fucose and Arg45. The extended binding site of galectin-4N may not be well suited to the A/B-antigen determinants, α-GalNAc/α-Gal, specifically due to clashes with residue Phe47. Overall, galectin-4N favours sulfated glycans whilst galectin-4C prefers blood group determinants. However, the two CRDs of galectin-4 can, to a less extent, recognise each other’s ligands.
PMCID: PMC4734333  PMID: 26828567
7.  Bacterial Adhesion of Streptococcus suis to Host Cells and Its Inhibition by Carbohydrate Ligands 
Biology  2013;2(3):918-935.
Streptococcus suis is a Gram-positive bacterium, which causes sepsis and meningitis in pigs and humans. This review examines the role of known S. suis virulence factors in adhesion and S. suis carbohydrate-based adhesion mechanisms, as well as the inhibition of S. suis adhesion by anti-adhesion compounds in in vitro assays. Carbohydrate-binding specificities of S. suis have been identified, and these studies have shown that many strains recognize Galα1-4Gal-containing oligosaccharides present in host glycolipids. In the era of increasing antibiotic resistance, new means to treat infections are needed. Since microbial adhesion to carbohydrates is important to establish disease, compounds blocking adhesion could be an alternative to antibiotics. The use of oligosaccharides as drugs is generally hampered by their relatively low affinity (micromolar) to compete with multivalent binding to host receptors. However, screening of a library of chemically modified Galα1-4Gal derivatives has identified compounds that inhibit S. suis adhesion in nanomolar range. Also, design of multivalent Galα1-4Gal-containing dendrimers has resulted in a significant increase of the inhibitory potency of the disaccharide. The S. suis adhesin binding to Galα1-4Gal-oligosaccharides, Streptococcal adhesin P (SadP), was recently identified. It has a Galα1-4Gal-binding N-terminal domain and a C-terminal LPNTG-motif for cell wall anchoring. The carbohydrate-binding domain has no homology to E. coli P fimbrial adhesin, which suggests that these Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacterial adhesins recognizing the same receptor have evolved by convergent evolution. SadP adhesin may represent a promising target for the design of anti-adhesion ligands for the prevention and treatment of S. suis infections.
PMCID: PMC3960878  PMID: 24833053
bacterial adhesion; galabiose; virulence; Streptococcus suis, carbohydrate; adhesin; Gb3; galactose
8.  Regulation of Transforming Growth Factor-β1–driven Lung Fibrosis by Galectin-3 
Rationale: Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a chronic dysregulated response to alveolar epithelial injury with differentiation of epithelial cells and fibroblasts into matrix-secreting myofibroblasts resulting in lung scaring. The prognosis is poor and there are no effective therapies or reliable biomarkers. Galectin-3 is a β-galactoside binding lectin that is highly expressed in fibrotic tissue of diverse etiologies.
Objectives: To examine the role of galectin-3 in pulmonary fibrosis.
Methods: We used genetic deletion and pharmacologic inhibition in well-characterized murine models of lung fibrosis. Further mechanistic studies were performed in vitro and on samples from patients with IPF.
Measurements and Main Results: Transforming growth factor (TGF)-β and bleomycin-induced lung fibrosis was dramatically reduced in mice deficient in galectin-3, manifest by reduced TGF-β1–induced EMT and myofibroblast activation and collagen production. Galectin-3 reduced phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of β-catenin but had no effect on Smad2/3 phosphorylation. A novel inhibitor of galectin-3, TD139, blocked TGF-β–induced β-catenin activation in vitro and in vivo and attenuated the late-stage progression of lung fibrosis after bleomycin. There was increased expression of galectin-3 in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid and serum from patients with stable IPF compared with nonspecific interstitial pneumonitis and controls, which rose sharply during an acute exacerbation suggesting that galectin-3 may be a marker of active fibrosis in IPF and that strategies that block galectin-3 may be effective in treating acute fibrotic exacerbations of IPF.
Conclusions: This study identifies galectin-3 as an important regulator of lung fibrosis and provides a proof of principle for galectin-3 inhibition as a potential novel therapeutic strategy for IPF.
PMCID: PMC3410728  PMID: 22095546
fibrosis; epithelial cells; fibroblasts
9.  Ligand Induced Galectin-3 Protein Self-association* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2012;287(26):21751-21756.
Background: One galectin-3 function is to bind glycoproteins and cross-link them.
Results: A glycoprotein engaged many more galectin-3 carbohydrate-binding sites than its number of relevant glycans.
Conclusion: The ligand induced binding of one galectin-3 to another galectin-3 to form oligomers in a previously unrecognized way.
Significance: This differs from previous models and provides a new framework to interpret biological effects of galectin-3.
Many functions of galectin-3 entail binding of its carbohydrate recognition site to glycans of a glycoprotein, resulting in cross-linking thought to be mediated by its N-terminal noncarbohydrate-binding domain. Here we studied interaction of galectin-3 with the model glycoprotein asialofetuin (ASF), using a fluorescence anisotropy assay to measure the concentration of free galectin carbohydrate recognition sites in solution. Surprisingly, in the presence of ASF, this remained low even at high galectin-3 concentrations, showing that many more galectin-3 molecules were engaged than expected due to the about nine known glycan-based binding sites per ASF molecule. This suggests that after ASF-induced nucleation, galectin-3 associates with itself by the carbohydrate recognition site binding to another galectin-3 molecule, possibly forming oligomers. We named this type-C self-association to distinguish it from the previously proposed models (type-N) where galectin-3 molecules bind to each other through the N-terminal domain, and all carbohydrate recognition sites are available for binding glycans. Both types of self-association can result in precipitates, as measured here by turbidimetry and dynamic light scattering. Type-C self-association and precipitation occurred even with a galectin-3 mutant (R186S) that bound poorly to ASF but required much higher concentration (∼50 μm) as compared with wild type (∼1 μm). ASF also induced weaker type-C self-association of galectin-3 lacking its N-terminal domains, but as expected, no precipitation. Neither a monovalent nor a divalent N-acetyl-d-lactosamine-containing glycan induced type-C self-association, even if the latter gave precipitates with high concentrations of galectin-3 (>∼50 μm) in agreement with published results and perhaps due to type-N self-association.
PMCID: PMC3381137  PMID: 22549776
Carbohydrate-binding Protein; Endocytosis; Galectin; Glycoprotein; Protein Cross-linking; Fluorescence Polarization; Oligomerization
10.  The Carbohydrate-Binding Site in Galectin-3 Is Preorganized To Recognize a Sugarlike Framework of Oxygens: Ultra-High-Resolution Structures and Water Dynamics 
Biochemistry  2011;51(1):296-306.
The recognition of carbohydrates by proteins is a fundamental aspect of communication within and between living cells. Understanding the molecular basis of carbohydrate–protein interactions is a prerequisite for the rational design of synthetic ligands. Here we report the high- to ultra-high-resolution crystal structures of the carbohydrate recognition domain of galectin-3 (Gal3C) in the ligand-free state (1.08 Å at 100 K, 1.25 Å at 298 K) and in complex with lactose (0.86 Å) or glycerol (0.9 Å). These structures reveal striking similarities in the positions of water and carbohydrate oxygen atoms in all three states, indicating that the binding site of Gal3C is preorganized to coordinate oxygen atoms in an arrangement that is nearly optimal for the recognition of β-galactosides. Deuterium nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) relaxation dispersion experiments and molecular dynamics simulations demonstrate that all water molecules in the lactose-binding site exchange with bulk water on a time scale of nanoseconds or shorter. Nevertheless, molecular dynamics simulations identify transient water binding at sites that agree well with those observed by crystallography, indicating that the energy landscape of the binding site is maintained in solution. All heavy atoms of glycerol are positioned like the corresponding atoms of lactose in the Gal3C complexes. However, binding of glycerol to Gal3C is insignificant in solution at room temperature, as monitored by NMR spectroscopy or isothermal titration calorimetry under conditions where lactose binding is readily detected. These observations make a case for protein cryo-crystallography as a valuable screening method in fragment-based drug discovery and further suggest that identification of water sites might inform inhibitor design.
PMCID: PMC3255464  PMID: 22111949
11.  The Anti-angiogenic Peptide Anginex Greatly Enhances Galectin-1 Binding Affinity for Glycoproteins* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2011;286(16):13801-13804.
Angiogenesis is a key event in cancer progression and therefore a promising target in cancer treatment. Galectin-1, a β-galactoside binding lectin, is up-regulated in the endothelium of tumors of different origin and has been shown to be the target for anginex, a powerful anti-angiogenic peptide with anti-tumor activity. Here we show that when bound to anginex, galectin-1 binds various glycoproteins with hundred- to thousand-fold higher affinity. Anginex also interacts with galectin-2, -7, -8N, and -9N but not with galectin-3, -4, or -9C.
PMCID: PMC3077580  PMID: 21372130
Cancer Therapy; Carbohydrate; Fluorescence; Glycoprotein; Lectin; Peptide Interactions; Angiogenesis; Fluorescence Polarization; Galactose; Galectin
12.  Probing the acceptor substrate binding site of Trypanosoma cruzi trans-sialidase with systematically modified substrates and glycoside libraries† †Electronic supplementary information (ESI) available: Details of the ketone and amine components of the thiogalactoside library. See DOI: 10.1039/c0ob00826e Click here for additional data file.  
Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry  2011; 9 ( 5 ):1653-1660.
Trypanosoma cruzi trans-sialidase is a versatile catalyst for enzymatic α-2,3-sialylation reactions.
Systematically modified octyl galactosides and octyl N-acetyllactosamines were assessed as inhibitors of, and substrates for, T. cruzi trans-sialidase (TcTS) in the context of exploring its acceptor substrate binding site. These studies show that TcTS, which catalyses the α-(2→3)-sialylation of non-reducing terminal β-galactose residues, is largely intolerant of substitution of the galactose 2 and 4 positions whereas substitution of the galactose 6 position is well tolerated. Further studies show that even the addition of a bulky sugar residue (glucose, galactose) does not impact negatively on TcTS binding and turnover, which highlights the potential of ‘internal’ 6-substituted galactose residues to serve as TcTS acceptor substrates. Results from screening a 93-membered thiogalactoside library highlight a number of structural features (notably imidazoles and indoles) that are worthy of further investigation in the context of TcTS inhibitor development.
PMCID: PMC3315775  PMID: 21253654
13.  Mutational Tuning of Galectin-3 Specificity and Biological Function* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2010;285(45):35079-35091.
Galectins are defined by a conserved β-galactoside binding site that has been linked to many of their important functions in e.g. cell adhesion, signaling, and intracellular trafficking. Weak adjacent sites may enhance or decrease affinity for natural β-galactoside-containing glycoconjugates, but little is known about the biological role of this modulation of affinity (fine specificity). We have now produced 10 mutants of human galectin-3, with changes in these adjacent sites that have altered carbohydrate-binding fine specificity but that retain the basic β-galactoside binding activity as shown by glycan-array binding and a solution-based fluorescence anisotropy assay. Each mutant was also tested in two biological assays to provide a correlation between fine specificity and function. Galectin-3 R186S, which has selectively lost affinity for LacNAc, a disaccharide moiety commonly found on glycoprotein glycans, has lost the ability to activate neutrophil leukocytes and intracellular targeting into vesicles. K176L has increased affinity for β-galactosides substituted with GlcNAcβ1–3, as found in poly-N-acetyllactosaminoglycans, and increased potency to activate neutrophil leukocytes even though it has lost other aspects of galectin-3 fine specificity. G182A has altered carbohydrate-binding fine specificity and altered intracellular targeting into vesicles, a possible link to the intracellular galectin-3-mediated anti-apoptotic effect known to be lost by this mutant. Finally, the mutants have helped to define the differences in fine specificity shown by Xenopus, mouse, and human galectin-3 and, as such, the evidence for adaptive change during evolution.
PMCID: PMC2966122  PMID: 20807768
Carbohydrate Function; Galactose; Mutant; Neutrophil; Trafficking; Galectin; Specificity
14.  Protein Flexibility and Conformational Entropy in Ligand Design Targeting the Carbohydrate Recognition Domain of Galectin-3 
Journal of the American Chemical Society  2010;132(41):14577-14589.
Rational drug design is predicated on knowledge of the three-dimensional structure of the protein−ligand complex and the thermodynamics of ligand binding. Despite the fundamental importance of both enthalpy and entropy in driving ligand binding, the role of conformational entropy is rarely addressed in drug design. In this work, we have probed the conformational entropy and its relative contribution to the free energy of ligand binding to the carbohydrate recognition domain of galectin-3. Using a combination of NMR spectroscopy, isothermal titration calorimetry, and X-ray crystallography, we characterized the binding of three ligands with dissociation constants ranging over 2 orders of magnitude. 15N and 2H spin relaxation measurements showed that the protein backbone and side chains respond to ligand binding by increased conformational fluctuations, on average, that differ among the three ligand-bound states. Variability in the response to ligand binding is prominent in the hydrophobic core, where a distal cluster of methyl groups becomes more rigid, whereas methyl groups closer to the binding site become more flexible. The results reveal an intricate interplay between structure and conformational fluctuations in the different complexes that fine-tunes the affinity. The estimated change in conformational entropy is comparable in magnitude to the binding enthalpy, demonstrating that it contributes favorably and significantly to ligand binding. We speculate that the relatively weak inherent protein−carbohydrate interactions and limited hydrophobic effect associated with oligosaccharide binding might have exerted evolutionary pressure on carbohydrate-binding proteins to increase the affinity by means of conformational entropy.
PMCID: PMC2954529  PMID: 20873837
15.  Inhibition mechanism of human galectin-7 by a novel galactose-benzylphosphate inhibitor 
The Febs Journal  2012;279(2):193-202.
Galectins are involved in many cellular processes due to their ability to bind carbohydrates. Understanding their functions has shown the necessity for potent and specific galectin inhibitors. Human galectin-7 (hGal-7), in particular, has been highlighted as an important marker in many types of cancer by either inhibiting or promoting tumour growth. Producing ligands able to selectively target hGal-7 will offer promising tools for deciphering cancer processes in which hGal-7 is involved as well as present potential solutions for future therapeutics. Here we report the high resolution crystal structure of hGal-7 in complex with a synthetic 2-O-benzylphosphate-galactoside inhibitor (which is > 60-fold more potent than its parent galactoside). The high resolution crystallographic analysis highlights the validity of using saccharide derivatives, conserving properties of the galactose binding, while enhanced affinity and specificity is provided by the added phosphate group. This structural information will allow the design of further inhibitors with improved potency and specificity.
The atomic coordinates for the complex of human galectin-7 as well as for the free structure have been deposited with the Protein Data Bank (accession numbers 3ZXE and 3ZXF respectively)
Structured digital abstract
hGal-7 and hGal-7 bind by X-raycrystallography (Viewinteraction)
PMCID: PMC3328751  PMID: 22059385
drug design; galactoside inhibitor; galectin-7; lectin

Results 1-15 (15)