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J Biol Chem. 2005 Mar 11;280(10):8875-83. Epub 2005 Jan 4.

Hyaluronan constitutively regulates ErbB2 phosphorylation and signaling complex formation in carcinoma cells.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina 29425, USA.


Hyaluronan is enriched in many types of human cancers, and manipulations of hyaluronan expression or interactions have a major influence on tumor progression in animal models. Increased ErbB2 activity is characteristic of several cancers and is responsible for many aspects of malignant cell behavior in these cancers. In this study we show that constitutively high levels of active, i.e. autophosphorylated, ErbB2 in HCT116 colon carcinoma cells and TA3/St mammary carcinoma cells are dependent on endogenous hyaluronan-CD44 interaction. Dependence on hyaluronan-CD44 interaction was demonstrated by the administration of hyaluronan oligomers, experimentally induced expression of soluble CD44, and small interfering RNA knockdown of CD44 expression. On the other hand, increasing hyaluronan production by overexpression of hyaluronan synthase 2 or emmprin causes elevated ErbB2 phosphorylation in MCF-7 mammary carcinoma cells, which normally exhibit low levels of ErbB2 activity. Furthermore, in HCT116 and TA3/St cells, inhibition of endogenous hyaluronan-CD44 interaction causes disassembly of a constitutive, lipid raft-associated, signaling complex containing phosphorylated ErbB2, CD44, ezrin, phosphoinositide 3-kinase, and the chaperone molecules, Hsp90 and cdc37. Stimulation of hyaluronan production in MCF-7 cells induces assembly of this complex. We conclude that hyaluronan regulates ErbB2 activity and its interactions with other signaling factors in carcinoma cells.

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