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J Biol Chem. 1995 May 12;270(19):11567-73.

Adhesive interactions between alternatively spliced CD44 isoforms.

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  • 1Terry Fox Laboratory for Hematology/Oncology, British Columbia Cancer Agency, Vancouver, Canada.


Alternative splicing of a series of 10 contiguous exons present within the CD44 gene can generate a large number of differentially expressed CD44 isoforms that contain additional peptide sequences of varying length inserted into a single site within the extracellular domain of the molecule proximal to the membrane spanning domain. Although distinct functions have been ascribed to certain of these isoforms, the effect of particular inserted domains on the ligand-binding specificity of the CD44 molecule remains unclear. In the present study, we demonstrate that while CD44H, the major CD44 isoform expressed on resting hemopoietic cells, and CD44R1, an alternatively spliced isoform present on transformed epithelial cells and certain activated and/or malignant hemopoietic cell types, can both bind avidly to hyaluronan, only CD44R1 can promote homotypic cellular aggregation when expressed in the CD44-negative murine lymphoma cell line TIL1. Experiments in which TIL1 cells transduced with different CD44 isoforms were tested for their ability to adhere to one another or to COS7 cells transfected with CD44R1, indicated that CD44R1 can recognize and bind a common determinant present on both CD44H and CD44R1. Monoclonal antibody blocking studies suggest further, that the determinant recognized by CD44R1 is located in a region of the CD44 molecule distinct from that involved in hyaluronan binding.

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