Problem: What is a lectin? Pick one lectin and describe its function.

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Lectins are a type of protein that can bind to cell membranes. They are sugar-binding and become the “glyco” portion of glycoconjugates on the membranes. Lectins offer a way for molecules to stick together without getting the immune system involved, which can influence cell-cell interaction. One remarkable type of lectin is the galectin that has the following functions:

  • One of the major functions of galectins is to regulate immune and inflammatory responses. Galectins are expressed by activated T and B cells, regulatory T cells, dendritic cells, mast cells, eosinophils, monocytes/macrophages, and neutrophils. In addition, galectins can promote pro- or anti-inflammatory responses, depending on the inflammatory stimulus, microenvironment, and target cells. 
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What is a lectin? Pick one lectin and describe its function.