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Stroke. 2001 Apr;32(4):1020-7.

Use of suppression subtractive hybridization for differential gene expression in stroke: discovery of CD44 gene expression and localization in permanent focal stroke in rats.

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  • 1Departments of Cardiovascular Sciences and General Pharmacology, DuPont Pharmaceuticals Company, Wilmington, Deleware, USA.



CD44 is a transmembrane glycoprotein involved in endothelial cell recognition, lymphocyte trafficking, and regulation of cytokine gene expression in inflammatory diseases. The present report describes the discovery of upregulated CD44 gene expression and its spatial and temporal distribution in the brain after focal stroke.


Rats were subjected to permanent occlusion of the middle cerebral artery (MCAO). Suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH) strategy was used to identify differentially expressed genes. Northern blotting and real-time polymerase chain reaction were used to evaluate the expression of CD44 and hyaluronan synthase 2 (HAS-2) mRNA. Western blotting and immunohistochemistry were used to examine CD44 expression and cellular distribution.


CD44 upregulation after focal stroke was discovered by the SSH approach and confirmed by DNA sequencing. Northern blot using a pooled poly(A)+ RNA revealed 3 splice variants of CD44 mRNA, and their inducible expression started at 6 hours (5.3-fold increase over sham operation), peaked at 24 hours (28.6-fold increase), and persisted up to 72 hours (17.8-fold increase) after MCAO. A parallel induction profile of HAS-2 mRNA was observed in the ischemic brain tissue. The levels of CD44 were markedly elevated at 6 hours (1.8-fold increase over sham; n=3), 24 hours (2.9-fold, peak induction; P<0.01), and 72 hours (2.4-fold increase; P<0.05) after MCAO by means of Western analysis. Immunohistochemical and confocal microscopy confirmed that constitutive expression of CD44 is limited to microvessels in normal brain but is strongly induced after ischemia, where the immunoreactive signal mainly resided in endothelial cells and monocytes. Double-labeling immunohistochemistry demonstrated that a marked induction of CD44 in the ischemic lesion is dominantly located in microglia and a subset of macrophages.


The discovery of concomitant induction of CD44 and HAS-2 mRNA expression and the localization of CD44 in the microglia, macrophages, and microvessels of the ischemic brain tissue suggest that an active interaction between CD44 and hyaluronan may occur and play a role in the known inflammatory response and tissue remodeling after stroke.

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