Galectins are small unglycosylated soluble lectins distributed both inside and outside the cells. They share a conserved domain for the recognition of carbohydrates (CRD). Although galectins have a common affinity for β-galatosides, they exhibit different binding preferences for complex glycans. First described twenty years ago, galectin-7 is a prototypic galectin, with a single CRD, able to form divalent homodimers. This lectin, which is mainly expressed in stratified epithelia, has been described in epithelial tissues as being involved in apoptotic responses, in proliferation and differentiation but also in cell adhesion and migration. Most members of the galectins family have been associated with cancer biology. One of the main functions of galectins in cancer is their immunomodulating potential and anti-angiogenic activity. Indeed, galectin-1 and -3, are already targeted in clinical trials. Another relevant function of galectins in tumour progression is their ability to regulate cell migration and cell adhesion. Among these galectins, galectin-7 is abnormally expressed in various cancers, most prominently in carcinomas, and is involved in cancer progression and metastasis but its precise functions in tumour biology remain poorly understood. In this issue, we will focus on the physiological functions of galectin-7 in epithelia and present the alterations of galectin-7 expression in carcinomas with the aim to describe its possible functions in tumour progression.
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