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Curr Biol. 1996 Jul 1;6(7):884-90.

CD44 phosphorylation regulates melanoma cell and fibroblast migration on, but not attachment to, a hyaluronan substratum.

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Department of Biology, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, London.



CD44 is a transmembrane receptor for the extracellular matrix glycosaminoglycan, hyaluronan. This receptor-ligand interaction plays an essential role in tumour progression, in embryonic tissue morphogenesis and in leukocyte migration during inflammation. It is well documented that the interaction between CD44 and hyaluronan is strictly regulated, but little is known about the relationship between hyaluronan-dependent cell adhesion and cell migration.


In these studies we have used a CD44-negative human melanoma cell line and a murine fibroblast line which expresses low levels of endogenous CD44. Both cell lines were transfected with plasmids encoding wild-type human CD44 or CD44 phosphorylation mutants, in which the target serines had been mutated to small neutral amino acids or large acidic residues. We show that expression of wild-type CD44 enhances the ability of both cell lines to bind to, and migrate on, a hyaluronan-coated substratum. In contrast, the two CD44 phosphorylation mutants were as efficient as wild-type CD44 in mediating cell adhesion but were unable to support hyaluronan-dependent migration.


These studies demonstrate a control mechanism specific for CD44-mediated cell motility and have implications for the regulation of metastatic progression by cell-adhesion receptors.

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