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FASEB J. 2006 Feb;20(2):337-9. Epub 2005 Dec 13.

Variant isoforms of CD44 are P- and L-selectin ligands on colon carcinoma cells.

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Department of The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.


The initial selectin-dependent events that mediate tumor cell tethering to platelets, leukocytes, and vascular endothelium can regulate the extravasation and colonization of metastatic cells into distant tissues. Little is known, however, about the identity of selectin counter-receptors on tumor cells, which facilitate the metastatic process. To address this issue, we performed SDS-PAGE analysis of membrane proteins, metabolic inhibition studies, blot rolling assays, and cell-free flow-based adhesion experiments using microbeads coated with CD44 immunoprecipitated from carcinomas and purified selectins as substrate. Here, we demonstrate that variant isoforms of CD44 (CD44v) on LS174T colon carcinoma cells possess P-/L-/E-selectin binding activity, in contrast to the standard isoform of CD44 (CD44s) on hematopoietic-progenitor cells (HPCs), which is primarily an L-/E-selectin ligand. Moreover, the selectin-binding determinants on CD44v from LS174T cells are sialofucosylated structures displayed on O-linked glycans, akin to those on P-selectin glycoprotein ligand-1, but distinct from the HECA-452-reactive N-glycans on CD44s expressed on HPCs. Using flow-based adhesion assays, we systematically characterize shear-dependent LS174T CD44 vs. HL60 CD44s adhesion to E-/P-/L-selectin. The novel finding that CD44v are selectin ligands offers a unifying perspective on the apparent enhanced metastatic potential associated with tumor cell CD44v overexpression and the critical role of selectins in metastasis.

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