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Curr Biol. 1998 Jun 4;8(12):705-8.

Identification and functional analysis of the ezrin-binding site in the hyaluronan receptor, CD44.

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


ERM (ezrin, radixin and moesin) proteins function as linkers between the actin cytoskeleton and the plasma membrane. In addition to this structural role, these proteins are highly regulatable making them ideal candidates to mediate important physiological events such as adhesion and membrane morphology and to control formation and breakdown of membrane-cytoskeletal junctions. Recently, a direct interaction in vitro has been demonstrated between ERM proteins and the hyaluronan receptor, CD44. We have mapped the ezrin-binding site to two clusters of basic amino acids in a membrane-proximal 9 amino-acid region within the CD44 cytoplasmic domain. To investigate the functional importance of this interaction in vivo, we created a number of mutations within full-length CD44 and expressed these mutants in human melanoma cells. We demonstrate here that mutations within the ezrin-binding site do not disrupt the plasma membrane localization of CD44 and, in addition, that this region is not required to mediate efficient hyaluronan binding. These studies suggest that ERM proteins mediate the outside-in, rather than inside-out, signalling of adhesion receptors.

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