Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Vol.359, No.3, 672-678, 2007
Role of galectin-3 in prion infections of the CNS
Galectin-3 is a multi-functional protein and participates in mediating inflammatory reactions. The pronounced overexpression of galectin-3 in prion-infected brain tissue prompted us to study the role of this protein in a murine prion model. Immunofluorescence double-labelling identified microglia as the major cell type expressing galectin-3. Ablation of galectin-3 did not affect PrPSc-deposition and development of gliosis. However, galectin-3(-/-)-mice showed prolonged survival times upon intracerebral and peripheral scrapie infections. Moreover, protein levels of the lysosomal activation marker LAMP-2 were markedly reduced in prion-infected galectin-3(-/-)-mice suggesting a role of galectin-3 in regulation of lysosomal functions. Lower mRNA levels of Beclin-1 and Atg5 in prion-infected wild-type and galectin-3(-/-)-mice indicated an impairment of autophagy although autophagosome formation was unchanged. The results point towards a detrimental role of galectin-3 in prion infections of the CNS and suggest that endo-/lysosomal dysfunction in combination with reduced autophagy may contribute to disease development. (c) 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.