A role for the cell adhesion molecule CD44 and sulfation in leukocyte-endothelial cell adhesion during an inflammatory response?

Biochem Pharmacol. 2000 Mar 1;59(5):455-65. doi: 10.1016/s0006-2952(99)00266-x.


CD44 is a widely expressed cell adhesion molecule that has been implicated in a variety of biological processes including lymphopoiesis, angiogenesis, wound healing, leukocyte extravasation at inflammatory sites, and tumor metastasis. The adhesive function of CD44, like other molecules involved in inducible adhesion, is tightly regulated. Post-translational modifications, isoform expression, aggregation state, and protein associations all can affect the ligand binding properties of CD44, and these can vary depending on the cell type and the activation state of the cell. The most extensively characterized ligand for CD44 is hyaluronan, a component of the extracellular matrix. Interactions between CD44 and hyaluronan can mediate both cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix adhesion. In the immune system, both the selectin molecules and CD44 have been implicated in the initial binding of leukocytes to endothelial cells at an inflammatory site. Sulfation is required for selectin-mediated leukocyte-endothelial cell interactions, and, recently, inducible sulfation also was shown to regulate CD44-mediated leukocyte adhesion to endothelial cells. Sulfation, therefore, may be important in the regulation of cell adhesion at inflammatory sites. In this commentary we have reviewed the molecular aspects of CD44 and the mechanisms that regulate its binding to hyaluronan. In addition, we have summarized the role of CD44 and hyaluronan in mediating leukocyte-endothelial cell interactions and have discussed how this interaction may be regulated. Finally, we examined the potential role of sulfation as an inducible means to regulate CD44-mediated leukocyte adhesion and as a more general mechanism to regulate leukocyte-endothelial cell interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology*
  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Endothelium / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hyaluronan Receptors / biosynthesis
  • Hyaluronan Receptors / physiology*
  • Hyaluronic Acid / metabolism
  • Hyaluronic Acid / physiology
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Leukocytes / physiology*
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Selectins / metabolism
  • Sulfates / metabolism*


  • Hyaluronan Receptors
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Selectins
  • Sulfates
  • Hyaluronic Acid