CD44 is a hyaluronan binding cell surface signal transducing receptor that influences motility, cell survival and proliferation as well as the formation of tumor microenvironment. CD44 contains two variable regions encoded by variable exons. Alternative splicing, which is often deregulated in cancer, can produce various isoforms of CD44 with properties that may have different tissue specific effects and therefore even diverse effects on cancer progression. This review summarizes and puts together all major regulators of alternative splicing of CD44 in cancer that have been documented so far and that have an experimentally proved effect on CD44 isoform switching. It is important to better understand the mechanisms of alternative splicing of CD44, where all the variability of CD44 originates, to be able to explain the isoform switching and occurrence of variant isoforms of CD44 (CD44v) in cancer.
Keywords: Alternative splicing; CD44; CD44v; CSC; EMT; Isoform switch.
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