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Exp Cell Res. 2011 Apr 15;317(7):910-9. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2010.12.003. Epub 2010 Dec 13.

ATRA-induced HL-60 myeloid leukemia cell differentiation depends on the CD38 cytosolic tail needed for membrane localization, but CD38 enzymatic activity is unnecessary.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, Veterinary Research Tower, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


Leukocyte antigen CD38 expression is an early marker of all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) stimulated differentiation in the leukemic cell line HL-60. It promotes induced myeloid maturation when overexpressed, whereas knocking it down is inhibitory. It is a type II membrane protein with an extracellular C-terminal enzymatic domain with NADase/NADPase and ADPR cyclase activity and a short cytoplasmic N-terminal tail. Here we determined whether CD38 enzymatic activity or the cytoplasmic tail is required for ATRA-induced differentiation. Neither a specific CD38 ectoenzyme inhibitor nor a point mutation that cripples enzymatic activity (CD38 E226Q) diminishes ATRA-induced differentiation or G1/0 arrest. In contrast a cytosolic deletion mutation (CD38 Δ11-20) prevents membrane expression and inhibits differentiation and G1/0 arrest. These results may be consistent with disrupting the function of critical molecules necessary for membrane-expressed CD38 signal transduction. One candidate molecule is the Src family kinase Fgr, which failed to undergo ATRA-induced upregulation in CD38 Δ11-20 expressing cells. Another is Vav1, which also showed only basal expression after ATRA treatment in CD38 Δ11-20 expressing cells. Therefore, the ability of CD38 to propel ATRA-induced myeloid differentiation and G1/0 arrest is unimpaired by loss of its ectoenzyme activity. However a cytosolic tail deletion mutation disrupted membrane localization and inhibited differentiation. ATRA-induced differentiation thus does not require the CD38 ectoenzyme function, but is dependent on a membrane receptor function.

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