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Int J Cancer. 1995 Apr 10;61(2):241-8.

Glycoconjugate profile and CD44 expression in human melanoma cell lines with different metastatic capacity.

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Department of Pathology, University Hospital Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Changes in glycoconjugate production have been reported for tumor cells. In this study, we investigated the glycoconjugate expression pattern in normal human melanocytes and in a panel of 6 human melanoma cell lines with different metastatic capacity after s.c. inoculation into nude mice. Glycoconjugates were labeled in vitro with [35S] sulphate and [3H] glucosamine, purified from cells and culture medium by column chromatography and identified by treatment with specific glycosidases. Characterization of the purified glycoconjugate fractions as well as alcian-blue staining of xenograft lesions revealed that hyaluronic acid (HA) is the main glycoconjugate produced by all cell lines. Highly metastatic cell lines expressed higher levels of HA than melanocytes and than weakly metastatic or non-metastatic cell lines. In addition, a shift in dominance from chondroitin-sulphate proteoglycan to heparan-sulphate proteoglycan was observed with increasing metastatic capacity. We also studied the expression and binding activity of the HA receptor CD44. Immunoprecipitation experiments indicated high CD44 synthesis only in highly metastatic cell lines, but FACS analysis demonstrated approximately the same surface expression in melanocytes as in all cell lines. Adhesion assays to immobilized HA showed that CD44 can be present in an inactive or an active conformation. Our data suggest that a combination of increased HA production and the expression of CD44 on the cell surface may be associated with high metastatic potential of human melanoma cell lines in nude mice.

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