Galectins are a family of lectins that recognize β-D-galactosides independently of calcium ions, and are widely distributed in animals. To characterize a galectin previously purified from oocytes of Rana catesbeiana (American bullfrog), we studied its distribution and localization in several tissues from this frog. Hemagglutination assay and western blotting showed that this lectin is present in many tissues including the liver, skin, kidney, skeletal muscle, and sciatic nerve, but is particularly concentrated in the ovary. Light microscopic immunohistochemistry showed that this lectin is localized in such places as cell-cell junctions, basement membranes, extracellular matrix, or secretory substances in several organs, indicating that this galectin is mainly distributed extracellularly. However, in the ovary, light microscopy showed that this lectin is present in or associated with the yolk platelet. Electron microscopy further revealed that it is localized in the periphery of the yolk platelet (the yolk plasm), but not in the cortical granule. These results indicate that Rana oocytes contain abundant galectin in their yolk platelets in contrast to Xenopus laevis oocytes, which have been found not to contain galectins but other classes of lectins in their yolk platelets and cortical granules.
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