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J Immunol. 1988 Jul 15;141(2):547-52.

The monocyte differentiation antigen, CD14, is anchored to the cell membrane by a phosphatidylinositol linkage.

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Cellular and Molecular Biology Unit, Hospital for Joint Diseases, New York 10003.


CD14 is a myeloid differentiation Ag expressed primarily on peripheral blood monocytes and macrophages. Although its function is unknown, the CD14 gene maps to a region encoding several myeloid growth factors and receptors. Analysis of the CD14 protein sequence deduced from the cDNA shows that although the CD14 protein contains a characteristic leader peptide, it lacks a characteristic transmembrane region, suggesting that CD14 may be anchored to the membrane via glycosylphosphatidylinositol (PI). Treatment of monocytes as well as a CD14-expressing neuroglioma cell line with PI-phospholipase C removed CD14 from the cell surface. Furthermore, monocytes from a patient with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, a disease characterized by lack of expression of other PI-linked proteins, failed to express CD14. Interestingly, the CD14-expressing neuroglioma cell line, which had been transfected with a single CD14 cDNA, released a soluble form of CD14 into the supernatant. Soluble forms of CD14 have previously been observed in serum of normal individuals and in culture supernatants of CD14+ cells. Biosynthetic experiments reveal that this soluble form of CD14 (48 kDa), which is smaller than the form released from the membrane by PI-phospholipase C (53 kDa), does not contain ethanolamine, the first constitutent of the PI-anchoring system. These studies demonstrate that CD14 is a member of the family of PI-anchored proteins and suggest that soluble forms of CD14 represent molecules that completely lack the PI-anchoring system.

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