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Cell Tissue Res. 1995 May;280(2):225-33.

Localization of CD44, the hyaluronate receptor, on the plasma membrane of osteocytes and osteoclasts in rat tibiae.

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  • 1First Department of Oral Anatomy, Niigata University School of Dentistry, Japan.


CD44 is a multifunctional adhesion molecule that binds to hyaluronic acid, type I collagen, and fibronectin. We have studied the immunohistochemical localization of CD44 in bone cells by confocal laser scanning microscopy and transmission electron microscopy in order to clarify its role in the cell-cell and/or cell-matrix interaction of bone cells. In round osteoblasts attached to bone surfaces, immunoreactivity is restricted to their cytoplasmic processes. On the other hand, osteocytes in bone matrices show intense immunoreactivity on their plasma membrane. Intense immunoreactivity for CD44 can be detected on the basolateral plasma membranes of osteoclasts. There is considerably less reactivity observed in the area of the plasma membrane that is in direct contact with bone. The pre-embedding electron-microscopical method has revealed that CD44 is mainly localized on the basolateral plasma membrane of osteoclasts. However, the ruffled border and clear zone show little immunoreactivity. A CD44-positive reaction can be detected on both plasma membranes in the contact region between osteoclasts and osteocytes. These findings suggest that: 1) cells of the osteoblast lineage express CD44 in accordance with their morphological changes from osteoblasts into osteocytes; 2) osteoclasts express CD44 on their basolateral plasma membrane; 3) CD44 in osteoclasts and osteocytes may play an important role in cell-cell and/or cell-matrix attachment via extracellular matrices.

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