2015 Volume 61 Issue 5 Pages 439-448
The corpus luteum (CL) is a temporary endocrine gland producing a large amount of progesterone, which is essential for the establishment and maintenance of pregnancy. Galectin-1 is a β-galactose-binding protein that can modify functions of membrane glycoproteins and is expressed in the CL of mice and women. However, the physiological role of galectin-1 in the CL is unclear. In the present study, we investigated the expression and localization of galectin-1 in the bovine CL and the effect of galectin-1 on cultured luteal steroidogenic cells (LSCs) with special reference to its binding to the glycans on vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 (VEGFR-2). Galectin-1 protein was highly expressed at the mid and late luteal stages in the membrane fraction of bovine CL tissue and was localized to the surface of LSCs in a carbohydrate-dependent manner. Galectin-1 increased the viability in cultured LSCs. However, the viability of LSCs was decreased by addition of β-lactose, a competitive carbohydrate inhibitor of galectin-1 binding activity. VEGFR-2 protein, like galectin-1, is also highly expressed in the mid CL, and it was modified by multi-antennary glycans, which can be recognized by galectin-1. An overlay assay using biotinylated galectin-1 revealed that galectin-1 directly binds to asparagine-linked glycans (N-glycans) on VEGFR-2. Enhancement of LSC viability by galectin-1 was suppressed by a selective inhibitor of VEGFR-2. The overall findings suggest that galectin-1 plays a role as a survival factor in the bovine CL, possibly by binding to N-glycans on VEGFR-2.