Involvement of CD44, a molecule with a thousand faces, in cancer dissemination

Semin Cancer Biol. 2008 Aug;18(4):260-7. doi: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2008.03.015. Epub 2008 Mar 29.


Tumor progression is substantially dependent on network of multiple factors, including adhesion and homing molecules, which support the malignant metastatic spread. CD44, one of the adhesion/homing molecules, has attracted much attention not only because it is expressed on many types of tumors, but also owing to its numerous functions, such as supporting cell migration and transmitting survival signals, thereby being pro-oncogenic by nature. We have used the mouse malignant LB lymphoma cell line as a model for comprehensive in vitro and in vivo analyses of the interaction between CD44 and hyaluronic acid (HA), and its relevance to tumor dissemination. The in vitro studies revealed that LB cells could not bind HA, either under static or dynamic (i.e., shear flow) conditions, unless their CD44 is activated by phorbol ester, deglycosylated (to increase the CD44 positive net charge) or transfected with CD44 variants. In parallel, in vivo experiments showed that LB cell dissemination could be controlled by injection of anti-CD44 monoclonal antibodies or hyaluronidase. Furthermore, LB cells transfected with CD44v4-v10 variant, rather than standard CD44, displayed enhanced invasion of the peripheral lymph nodes. This effect was completely lost if the HA binding site of CD44 were mutated. LB cell accumulation in the lymph nodes is caused by enhanced migration via the afferent lymphatics rather than by accelerated proliferation within the lymph node. This information can be exploited to tailor a "therapeutic suit" that should be maximally effective in inducing tumor resistance, while minimizing destructive side effects.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Hyaluronan Receptors / physiology*
  • Hyaluronic Acid / metabolism
  • Lymphoma / metabolism*


  • Hyaluronan Receptors
  • Hyaluronic Acid