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      The High and Low Molecular Weight Forms of Hyaluronan Have Distinct Effects on CD44 Clustering*

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          Background: The feature of CD44 binding with native high molecular weight hyaluronan (nHA) and hyaluronan oligosaccharides (oHA) is different.

          Results: nHA induces but oHA reduces CD44 clustering.

          Conclusion: nHA and oHA have distinct effects on CD44 clustering.

          Significance: The study provides direct evidence for the different characteristics of CD44 binding with nHA and oHA in vivo.


          CD44 is a major cell surface receptor for the glycosaminoglycan hyaluronan (HA). Native high molecular weight hyaluronan (nHA) and oligosaccharides of hyaluronan (oHA) provoke distinct biological effects upon binding to CD44. Despite the importance of such interactions, however, the feature of binding with CD44 at the cell surface and the molecular basis for functional distinction between different sizes of HA is still unclear. In this study we investigated the effects of high and low molecular weight hyaluronan on CD44 clustering. For the first time, we provided direct evidence for a strong relationship between HA size and CD44 clustering in vivo. In CD44-transfected COS-7 cells, we showed that exogenous nHA stimulated CD44 clustering, which was disrupted by oHA. Moreover, naturally expressed CD44 was distributed into clusters due to abundantly expressed nHA in HK-2 cells (human renal proximal tubule cells) and BT549 cells (human breast cancer cell line) without exogenous stimulation. Our results suggest that native HA binding to CD44 selectively induces CD44 clustering, which could be inhibited by oHA. Finally, we demonstrated that HA regulates cell adhesion in a manner specifically dependent on its size. oHA promoted cell adhesion while nHA showed no effects. Our results might elucidate a molecular- and/or cellular-based mechanism for the diverse biological activities of nHA and oHA.

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          Most cited references 54

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          Hyaluronan fragments: an information-rich system.

          Hyaluronan is a straight chain, glycosaminoglycan polymer of the extracellular matrix composed of repeating units of the disaccharide [-D-glucuronic acid-beta1,3-N-acetyl-D-glucosamine-beta1,4-]n. Hyaluronan is synthesized in mammals by at least three synthases with products of varying chain lengths. It has an extraordinary high rate of turnover with polymers being funneled through three catabolic pathways. At the cellular level, it is degraded progressively by a series of enzymatic reactions that generate polymers of decreasing sizes. Despite their exceedingly simple primary structure, hyaluronan fragments have extraordinarily wide-ranging and often opposing biological functions. There are large hyaluronan polymers that are space-filling, anti-angiogenic, immunosuppressive, and that impede differentiation, possibly by suppressing cell-cell interactions, or ligand access to cell surface receptors. Hyaluronan chains, which can reach 2 x 10(4) kDa in size, are involved in ovulation, embryogenesis, protection of epithelial layer integrity, wound repair, and regeneration. Smaller polysaccharide fragments are inflammatory, immuno-stimulatory and angiogenic. They can also compete with larger hyaluronan polymers for receptors. Low-molecular-size polymers appear to function as endogenous "danger signals", while even smaller fragments can ameliorate these effects. Tetrasaccharides, for example, are anti-apoptotic and inducers of heat shock proteins. Various fragments trigger different signal transduction pathways. Particular hyaluronan polysaccharides are also generated by malignant cells in order to co-opt normal cellular functions. How the small hyaluronan fragments are generated is unknown, nor is it established whether the enzymes of hyaluronan synthesis and degradation are involved in maintaining proper polymer sizes and concentration. The vast range of activities of hyaluronan polymers is reviewed here, in order to determine if patterns can be detected that would provide insight into their production and regulation.
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            Hyaluronan in tissue injury and repair.

            A hallmark of tissue injury and repair is the turnover of extracellular matrix components. This review focuses on the role of the glycosaminoglycan hyaluronan in tissue injury and repair. Both the synthesis and degradation of extracellular matrix are critical contributors to tissue repair and remodeling. Fragmented hyaluronan accumulates during tissue injury and functions in ways distinct from the native polymer. There is accumulating evidence that hyaluronan degradation products can stimulate the expression of inflammatory genes by a variety of immune cells at the injury site. CD44 is the major cell-surface hyaluronan receptor and is required to clear hyaluronan degradation products produced during lung injury; impaired clearance of hyaluronan results in persistent inflammation. However, hyaluronan fragment stimulation of inflammatory gene expression is not dependent on CD44 in inflammatory macrophages. Instead, hyaluronan fragments utilize both Toll-like receptor (TLR) 4 and TLR2 to stimulate inflammatory genes in macrophages. Hyaluronan also is present on the cell surface of lung alveolar epithelial cells and provides protection against tissue damage by interacting with TLR2 and TLR4 on these parenchymal cells. The simple repeating structure of hyaluronan appears to be involved in a number of important aspects of noninfectious tissue injury and repair that are dependent on the size and location of the polymer as well as the interacting cells. Thus, the interactions between the endogenous matrix component hyaluronan and its signaling receptors initiate inflammatory responses, maintain structural cell integrity, and promote recovery from tissue injury.
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              CD44: structure, function, and association with the malignant process.

               R V Sionov,  D. Shalom,  D Naor (1996)
              CD44 is a ubiquitous multistructural and multifunctional cells surface adhesion molecule involved in cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions. Twenty exons are involved in the genomic organization of this molecule. The first five and the last 5 exons are constant, whereas the 10 exons located between these regions are subjected to alternative splicing, resulting in the generation of a variable region. Differential utilization of the 10 variable region exons, as well as variations in N-glycosylation, O-glycosylation, and glycosaminoglycanation (by heparan sulfate or chondroitin sulfate), generate multiple isoforms (at least 20 are known) of different molecular sizes (85-230 kDa). The smallest CD44 molecule (85-95 kDa), which lacks the entire variable region, is standard CD44 (CD44s). As it is expressed mainly on cells of lymphohematopoietic origin, CD44s is also known as hematopoietic CD44 (CD44H). CD44s is a single-chain molecule composed of a distal extracellular domain (containing, the ligand-binding sites), a membrane-proximal region, a transmembrane-spanning domain, and a cytoplasmic tail. The molecular sequence (with the exception of the membrane-proximal region) displays high interspecies homology. After immunological activation, T lymphocytes and other leukocytes transiently upregulate CD44 isoforms expressing variant exons (designated CD44v). A CD44 isform containing the last 3 exon products of the variable region (CD44V8-10, also known as epithelial CD44 or CD44E), is preferentially expressed on epithelial cells. The longest CD44 isoform expressing in tandem eight exons of the variable region (CD44V3-10) was detected in keratinocytes. Hyaluronic acid (HA), an important component of the extracellular matrix (ECM), is the principal, but by no means the only, ligand of CD44. Other CD44 ligands include the ECM components collagen, fibronectin, laminin, and chondroitin sulfate. Mucosal addressin, serglycin, osteopontin, and the class II invariant chain (Ii) are additional, ECM-unrelated, ligands of the molecule. In many, but not in all cases, CD44 does not bind HA unless it is stimulated by phorbol esters, activated by agonistic anti-CD44 antibody, or deglycosylated (e.g., by tunicamycin). CD44 is a multifunctional receptor involved in cell-cell and cell-ECM interactions, cell traffic, lymph node homing, presentation of chemokines and growth factors to traveling cells, and transmission of growth signals. CD44 also participates in the uptake and intracellular degradation of HA, as well as in transmission of signals mediating hematopoiesis and apoptosis. Many cancer cell types as well as their metastases express high levels of CD44. Whereas some tumors, such as gliomas, exclusively express standard CD44, other neoplasms, including gastrointestinal cancer, bladder cancer, uterine cervical cancer, breast cancer and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, also express CD44 variants. Hence CD44, particularly its variants, may be used as diagnostic or prognostic markers of at least some human malignant diseases. Furthermore, it has been shown in animal models that injection of reagents interfering with CD44-ligand interaction (e.g., CD44s- or CD44v-specific antibodies) inhibit local tumor growth and metastatic spread. These findings suggest that CD44 may confer a growth advantage on some neoplastic cells and, therefore, could be used as a target for cancer therapy. It is hoped that identification of CD44 variants expressed on cancer but not on normal cells will lead to the development of anti-CD44 reagents restricted to the neoplastic growth.

                Author and article information

                J Biol Chem
                J. Biol. Chem
                The Journal of Biological Chemistry
                American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (9650 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20814, U.S.A. )
                14 December 2012
                1 November 2012
                1 November 2012
                : 287
                : 51
                : 43094-43107
                From the Departments of []Molecular Biology Laboratory,
                [§ ]Rehabilitation Medicine,
                []Clinical Laboratory, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200233, China
                Author notes
                [2 ] To whom correspondence should be addressed: Dept. of Molecular Biology Laboratory, Shanghai Sixth People's Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, 600 Yishan Rd., Shanghai 200233, China. Tel.: 86-21-64369181; Fax: 86-21-63701361; E-mail: gao3507@ 123456126.com or gaofengc@ 123456online.sh.cn .

                Both are co-first authors.

                © 2012 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.

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                Glycobiology and Extracellular Matrices


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