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Birth Defects Res C Embryo Today. 2003 May;69(2):174-96.

Hyaluronan and CD44: strategic players for cell-matrix interactions during chondrogenesis and matrix assembly.

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Department of Biochemistry, Rush Medical College, 1653 West Congress Parkway, Chicago, IL 60612, USA.


Embryonic induction, soluble and insoluble factors, receptors, and signal transduction are orchestrated for the morphogenesis of the cartilage elements. The interaction of cells with the extracellular matrix (ECM) may lead to altered cellular response to morphogens based on the formation of new adhesive contacts, or the uncoupling of cell-matrix interactions. Hyaluronan's influence on cell behavior, and its intimate association with cells are accomplished by a wide variety of specific binding proteins for hyaluronan. The temporal expression of the hyaluronan receptor CD44 (which is expressed as several alternatively spliced variants) may be strategic to many of these cell-matrix interactions during chondrogenesis. CD44 expression is temporally coincident with the reduction of intercellular spaces at the regions of future cartilage deposition. The spatial organization of CD44 at the cell surface may function to establish or regulate the structure of the pericellular matrix dependent on a hyaluronan scaffold. As the ECM is modified during embryogenesis, the cellular response to inductive signals may be altered. An uncoupling of chondrocyte-hyaluronan interaction leads to chondrocytic chondrolysis. Thus, consideration of cell-matrix interactions during chondrogenesis, in the light of our current understanding of the temporal and spatial expression of signaling morphogens, should become a promising focus of future research endeavors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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