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Exp Cell Res. 1999 Nov 1;252(2):292-302.

Internalization of the hyaluronan receptor CD44 by chondrocytes.

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Rush Medical College, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, 1653 W. Congress Parkway, Chicago, Illinois, 60612-3864, USA.


Chondrocytes express CD44 as a primary receptor for the matrix macromolecule hyaluronan. Hyaluronan is responsible for the retention and organization of proteoglycan within cartilage, and hyaluronan-chondrocyte interactions are important for the assembly and maintenance of the cartilage matrix. Bovine articular chondrocytes were used to study the endocytosis and turnover of CD44 and the effects of receptor occupancy on this turnover. Matrix-intact chondrocytes exhibit approximately a 6% internalization of cell surface CD44 by 4 h. Treatment with Streptomyces hyaluronidase to remove endogenous pericellular matrix increased internalization to approximately 20% of cell surface CD44 at 4 h. This turnover could be partially inhibited by the addition of exogenous hyaluronan to these matrix-depleted chondrocytes. Cell surface biotin-labeled CD44 was internalized by chondrocytes and this internalization was decreased in the presence of hyaluronan. Colocalization of internalized CD44 and fluorescein-labeled hyaluronan in intracellular vesicles correlates with the previous results of receptor-mediated endocytosis pathway for the degradation of hyaluronan by acid hydrolases. Taken together, our results indicate that CD44 is internalized by chondrocytes and that CD44 turnover is modulated by occupancy with hyaluronan.

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