In the past decade, significant efforts have been made to delineate the intracellular and extracellular functions of galectins, multifunctional proteins capable of monitoring glycan changes during fundamental biological processes. Their widely conserved structures, exquisite, although in some cases promiscuous, carbohydrate specificity, and their ability to modulate a variety of biological processes have captivated a broad range of scientists from different disciplines. Galectin-1, a proto-type member of the galectin family displays at a glance a structure that appears to be quite simple, although a few peculiarities make it highly versatile. We have studied structural and chemical determinants of the galectin-1 protein that in a precise and subtle manner modulate its biological function, by combining experimental and computational approaches. Particularly, inactivation of the protein due to specific physico-chemical conditions present in inflammatory microenvironments will be discussed. We aim to integrate structural, biochemical, and functional aspects of this critical carbohydrate-binding protein and will discuss their implications in physiologic and pathologic settings with the ultimate goal of designing potential galectin-based therapeutic agents.
Dr. Santiago graduated in Chemistry at the Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, the public major university in northwestern Argentina, in 2005. He obtained his PhD in Chemistry at the same University in 2009, with studies based on the characterization of the structure and dynamics of water molecules surrounding the recognition area between proteins and carbohydrates, on a complementary experimental (Raman spectroscopy) and theoretical (molecular dynamics simulations) approach. During this period, he was a Fulbright fellow in the University of Pittsburgh, USA. He then specialized in structure and dynamics of carbohydrate-binding proteins, with special interest in understanding their role and function mechanism during immune response, involved as a Research visitor at the Department of Biophysics and Biological Chemistry, Johns Hopkins University. He participated in the KOSMOS Summer University 2012 in Berlin. During his postdoc awarded by a Georg Forster scholarship of the Humboldt Stiftung at the Institute of Biology of the Universität Humboldt zu Berlin, Germany, he worked on biophysical aspects of viral proteins, with focus on structural aspects regarding their function during infection. In 2018, he was appointed as visiting professor at the Department of Drug Science and Technology at the Univesità degli Studi di Torino, Italy, and has also offered various courses in Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay. He is now a career member of the Argentinean National Research Council (Conicet) working at IQUIBICEN, a research center at the School of Exact and Natural Sciences, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina, focusing his research on the recognition and interaction between biomolecules as studied by molecular dynamics simulation techniques.