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Glycoconj J. 1997 Aug;14(5):611-22.

CD44 in inflammation and metastasis.

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Department of Cancer Biology, The Salk Institute, San Diego, California 92186, USA.


CD44 is a major cell surface receptor for the glycosaminoglycan, hyaluronan (HA). CD44 binds HA specifically, although certain chondroitin-sulfate containing proteoglycans may also be recognized. CD44 binding of HA is regulated by the cells in which it is expressed. Thus, CD44 expression alone does not correlate with HA binding activity. CD44 is subject to a wide array of post-translational carbohydrate modifications, including N-linked, O-linked and glycosaminoglycan side chain additions. These modifications, which differ in different cell types and cell activation states, can have profound effects on HA binding function and are the main mechanism of regulating CD44 function that has been described to date. Some glycosaminoglycan modifications also affect ligand binding specificity, allowing CD44 to interact with proteins of the extracellular matrix, such as fibronectin and collagen, and to sequester heparin binding growth factors. It is not yet established whether the HA binding function of CD44 is responsible for its proposed involvement in inflammation. It has been shown, however, that CD44/HA interactions can mediate leukocyte rolling on endothelial and tissue substrates and that CD44-mediated recognition of HA can contribute to leukocyte activation. Changes in CD44 expression (mainly up-regulation, occasionally down-regulation, and frequently alteration in the pattern of isoforms expressed) are associated with a wide variety of cancers and the degree to which they spread; however, in other cancers, the CD44 pattern remains unchanged. Increased expression of CD44 is associated with increased binding to HA and increased metastatic potential in some experimental tumor systems; however, in other systems increased HA binding and metastatic potential are not correlated. CD44 may contribute to malignancy through changes in the regulation of HA recognition, the recognition of new ligands and/or other new biological functions of CD44 that remain to be discovered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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