Galectin-3 mediates nuclear β-catenin accumulation and wnt signaling in human colon cancer cells by regulation of glycogen synthase kinase-3β activity

Shumei Song, Nachman Mazurek, Chunming Liu, Yunjie Sun, Qing Qing Ding, Kaifeng Liu, Mien Chie Hung, Robert S. Bresalier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

164 Scopus citations


Wnt/β-catenin signaling plays an essential role in colon carcinogenesis. Galectin-3, a β-galactoside-binding protein, has been implicated in Wnt signaling, but the precise mechanisms by which galectin-3 modulates the Wnt pathway are unknown. In the present study, we determined the effects of galectin-3 on the Wnt/β-catenin pathway in colon cancer cells, as well as the mechanisms involved. Galectin-3 levels were manipulated in human colon cancer cells by stable transfection of galectin-3 antisense, short hairpin RNA, or full-length galectin-3 cDNA, and effects on β-catenin levels, subcellular distribution, and Wnt signaling were determined. Galectin-3 levels correlated with β-catenin levels in a variety of colon cancer cell lines. Down-regulation of galectin-3 resulted in decreased β-catenin protein levels but no change in β-catenin mRNA levels, suggesting that galectin-3 modulates β-catenin by another mechanism. Reduction of galectin-3 led to reduced nuclear β-catenin with a concomitant decrease in TCF4 transcriptional activity and expression of its target genes. Conversely, transfection of galectin-3 cDNA into colon cancer cells increased β-catenin expression and TCF4 tran-scriptional activity. Down-regulation of galectin-3 resulted in AKT and glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β) dephosphor-ylation and increased GSK activity, increasing β-catenin phosphorylation and degradation. Ly294002, an inhibitor of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, and dominant-negative AKT, suppressed TCF4 transcriptional activity induced by galectin-3 whereas LiCl, a GSK-3β inhibitor, increased TCF4 activity, mimicking the effects of galectin-3. These results suggest that galectin-3 mediates Wnt signaling, at least in part, by regulating GSK-3β phosphorylation and activity via the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/AKT pathway, and, thus, the degradation of β-catenin in colon cancer cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1343-1349
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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