ABSTRACT: Galectin-3 is expressed and secreted by immune cells and has been implicated in multiple aspects of the inflammatory response. It is a glycan binding protein which can exert its functions within cells or exogenously by binding cell surface ligands, acting as a molecular bridge or activating signalling pathways. In addition, this lectin has been shown to bind to microorganisms. In this study we investigated the interaction between galectin-3 and Neisseria meningitidis, an important extracellular human pathogen, which is a leading cause of septicaemia and meningitis. Immunohistochemical analysis indicated that galectin-3 is expressed during meningococcal disease and colocalizes with bacterial colonies in infected tissues from patients. We show that galectin-3 binds to N. meningitidis and we demonstrate that this interaction requiresfull-length, intact lipopolysaccharide molecules. We found that neither exogenous nor endogenous galectin-3 contributes to phagocytosis of N. meningitidis; instead exogenous galectin-3 increases adhesion to monocytes and macrophages but not epithelial cells. Finally we used galectin-3 deficient (Gal-3(-/-) ) mice to evaluate the contribution of galectin-3 to meningococcal bacteraemia. We found that Gal-3(-/-) mice had significantly lower levels of bacteraemia compared with wild-type mice after challenge with live bacteria, indicating that galectin-3 confers an advantage to N. meningitidis during systemic infection.
Cellular Microbiology 07/2012; 14(11):1657-75. · 5.46 Impact Factor