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Exp Cell Res. 2001 May 15;266(1):167-76.

Hyaluronidase can modulate expression of CD44.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143-0506, USA. rstern@itsa.ucsf.edi


CD44 is a family of transmembrane glycoproteins with multiple isoforms generated by alternative exon splicing of a single gene. CD44 and its variants are expressed on a wide variety of cells including cancer cells. The mechanisms by which splice variant exons are selected are unknown. The presence of hyaluronan in the environment of the cell appears to influence that selection process. The expression of particular splice variants of CD44 as well as the simultaneous presence of hyaluronan is important for motility, invasion, and the metastatic spread of some tumors. The influence of hyaluronidase digestion on the expression of CD44 in human cancer cell lines was examined. CD44 isoforms containing alternatively spliced exons were sensitive to hyaluronidase digestion in all lines examined, but differences between cell lines were observed. Expression of CD44s, the standard form, was resistant to digestion in two of three cell lines. A tentative model was formulated proposing that CD44 isoforms containing splice variants are unstable, requiring the continuous presence of ligand for expression. CD44s is relatively more stable, not requiring the continuous presence of hyaluronan. Additionally, a number of new CD44 variant isoforms, not previously observed, were identified.

Copyright 2001 Academic Press.

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