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J Cell Biol. 2001 Jun 11;153(6):1277-86.

CD44 is a major E-selectin ligand on human hematopoietic progenitor cells.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


E-selectin plays a critical role in mediating tissue-specific homing of T cells into skin, and of primitive hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs) into bone marrow (BM). Though it is known that a glycoform of PSGL-1 (CLA) functions as the principal E-selectin ligand on human T lymphocytes, the E-selectin ligand(s) of human HPCs has not been identified. We used a shear-based adherence assay to analyze and define the E-selectin ligand activity of membrane proteins from human HPCs. Our data show that PSGL-1 expressed on human HPCs is an E-selectin ligand, and that HPCs also express a previously unrecognized E-selectin ligand, CD44. The E-selectin ligand activity of CD44 is conferred by the elaboration of sialylated, fucosylated binding determinants on N-glycans. This glycoform of CD44 is expressed on primitive CD34+ human HPCs, but not on more mature hematopoietic cells. Under physiologic flow conditions, this molecule mediates E-selectin-dependent rolling interactions over a wider shear range than that of PSGL-1, and promotes human HPC rolling interactions on E-selectin expressed on human BM endothelial cells. These findings offer new insights into the structural biology and physiology of CD44, and into the molecular basis of E-selectin-dependent adhesive interactions that direct homing of human HPC to BM.

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