Galectin-3 Decreases 4-1BBL Bioactivity by Crosslinking Soluble and Membrane Expressed 4-1BB

Morten Aagaard Nielsen, Kristian Juul-Madsen, John Stegmayr, Chao Gao, Akul Y. Mehta, Stinne Ravn Greisen, Tue Wenzel Kragstrup, Malene Hvid, Thomas Vorup-Jensen, Richard D. Cummings, Hakon Leffler, Bent Winding Deleuran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


4-1BB is a T cell costimulatory receptor and a member of the tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily. Here, we show that Galectin-3 (Gal-3) decreases the cellular response to its ligand (4-1BBL). Gal-3 binds to both soluble 4-1BB (s4-1BB) and membrane-bound 4-1BB (mem4-1BB), without blocking co-binding of 4-1BBL. In plasma, we detected complexes composed of 4-1BB and Gal-3 larger than 100 nm in size; these complexes were reduced in synovial fluid from rheumatoid arthritis. Both activated 4-1BB+ T cells and 4-1BB-transfected HEK293 cells depleted these complexes from plasma, followed by increased expression of 4-1BB and Gal-3 on the cell surface. The increase was accompanied by a 4-fold decrease in TNFα production by the 4-1BBhighGal-3+ T cells, after exposure to 4-1BB/Gal-3 complexes. In RA patients, complexes containing 4-1BB/Gal-3 were dramatically reduced in both plasma and SF compared with healthy plasma. These results support that Gal-3 binds to 4-1BB without blocking the co-binding of 4-1BBL. Instead, Gal-3 leads to formation of large soluble 4-1BB/Gal-3 complexes that attach to mem4-1BB on the cell surfaces, resulting in suppression of 4-1BBL’s bioactivity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number915890
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Jun 24

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Cell Biology
  • Immunology in the medical area

Free keywords

  • 4-1BB
  • checkpoint receptor
  • Galectin-3
  • inflammation
  • rheumatoid arthritis


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