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Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2008 Apr;294(4):C907-16. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00463.2007. Epub 2008 Jan 30.

The dual role of CD44 as a functional P-selectin ligand and fibrin receptor in colon carcinoma cell adhesion.

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Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA.


Selectins and fibrin(ogen) play key roles in the hematogenous dissemination of tumor cells, and especially of colon carcinomas. However, the fibrin(ogen) receptor(s) on colon carcinoma cells has yet to be defined along with its relative capacity to bind fibrinogen versus fibrin under flow. Moreover, the functional P-selectin ligand has yet to be validated using intact platelets rather than purified selectin substrates. Using human CD44-knockdown and control LS174T cells, we demonstrate the pivotal involvement of CD44 in the P-selectin-mediated binding to platelets in shear flow. Quantitative comparisons of the binding kinetics of LS174T versus P-selectin glycoprotein ligand-1 (PSGL-1)-expressing THP-1 cells to activated platelets reveal that the relative avidity of P-selectin-CD44 binding is more than sevenfold lower than that of P-selectin-PSGL-1 interaction. Using CD44-knockdown LS174T cells and microspheres coated with CD44 immunoprecipitated from control LS174T cells, and purified fibrin(ogen) as substrate, we provide the first direct evidence that CD44 also acts as the major fibrin, but not fibrinogen, receptor on LS174T colon carcinoma cells. Interestingly, binding of plasma fibrin to CD44 on the colon carcinoma cell surface interferes with the P-selectin-CD44 molecular interaction and diminishes platelet-LS174T heteroaggregation in the high shear regime. Cumulatively, our data offer a novel perspective on the apparent metastatic potential associated with CD44 overexpression on colon carcinoma cells and the critical roles of P-selectin and fibrin(ogen) in metastatic spread and provide a rational basis for the design of new therapeutic strategies to impede metastasis.

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