Research Paper Volume 13, Issue 14 pp 18464—18481

Fibroblastic galectin-1-fostered invasion and metastasis are mediated by TGF-β1-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition in gastric cancer

Xiaolan You1, , Jian Wu1, , Xiaojun Zhao1, , Xingyu Jiang2, , Wenxuan Tao3, , Zhiyi Chen1, , Chuanjiang Huang1, , Tingrui Zheng1, , Xianhe Shen1, ,

  • 1 Department of Gastrointestinal Surgery, Taizhou Clinical Medical School of Nanjing Medical University (Taizhou People’s Hospital), Taizhou 225300, Jiangsu, China
  • 2 Department of Clinical Speciality, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing 210009, Jiangsu, China
  • 3 Department of Clinical Speciality, Southeast University, Nanjing 210009, Jiangsu, China

Received: February 26, 2021       Accepted: June 22, 2021       Published: July 14, 2021
How to Cite

Copyright: © 2021 You et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Background The gastric cancer (GC) microenvironment has important effects on biological behaviors, such as tumor cell invasion and metastasis. However, the mechanism by which the GC microenvironment promotes GC cell invasion and metastasis is unknown. The present study aimed to clarify the effects and mechanism of galectin-1 (GAL-1, encoded by LGALS1) on GC invasion and metastasis in the GC microenvironment.

Methods The expression of GAL-1/ LGALS1 was determined using western blotting, immunohistochemistry, and quantitative real-time reverse transcription PCR in GC tissues. Besides, methods including stable transfection, Matrigel invasion and migration assays, and wound-healing assays in vitro; and metastasis assays in vivo, were also conducted.

Results GAL-1 from cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) induced the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of GC cells though the transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β1)/ Sma- and mad-related protein (Smad) pathway, and affected the prognosis of patients with GC. The level of GAL-1 was high in CAFs, and treating MGC-803 and SGC -7901 cell line with the conditioned medium from CAFs promoted their invasion and metastasis abilities. Overexpression of LGALS1 promoted the expression of TGF-β1 and induced EMT of GC cell lines. A TGF-β1 antagonist inhibited the invasion and migration of GC cells. In vivo, overexpression of LGALS1 promoted GC growth and metastasis, and the TGF-β1 antagonist dramatically reversed these events.

Conclusions These findings suggested that high expression of GAL-1 in the GC microenvironment predicts a poor prognosis in patients with GC by promoting the migration and invasion of GC cells via EMT through the TGF-β1/Smad signaling pathway. The results might provide new therapeutic targets to treat GC.


CAFs: Cancer-associated fibroblasts; EMT: Epithelial-mesenchymal transition; GAL-1: Galectin-1; GC: Gastric cancer; GCT: Gastric cancer tissues; TGF-β: transforming growth factor beta; Smad: Sma- and mad-related protein.