Published in Cancer Detection and Prevention 1993; 17(1).

CD44 isoforms are involved in tumour progression

Gunthert, U.1 Marston, W.1, Terpe, A.2, Stander, R.3, Jothy, S.4, Friedrichs, K.5, Franke, F.2, Aryee, D.6, Mackay, C.1.

Basel Institute for Immunology, CH 4005 Basel; Institut fur Pathologie der Universitat, D 6300 Giessen; Medizinische Universitatsklinik, A 6020 Innsbruck; Department of Pathology, McGill University, Montreal, Canada H3A 2B4; Universitatsklinik Eppendorf, D 2000 Hamburg 20; St. Anna Kinderspital, A 1090 Wien.

The hyaluronic acid receptor CD44 exists in several isoforms, due to alternative splicing of the RNA. Sequences of up to 420 amino acids can thus be added to the 250 residues of the basic or standard molecule. Both the standard form and the isoforms are heavily modified by N- and 0-glycosylations and chondroitin sulfate chains. CD44 is an enormously versatile surface molecule, probably interacting with diverse ligands, in addition to hyaluronate, In contrast to the broadly expressed standard 90 kDa form of CD44, the additional isoforms are expressed only in restricted areas of the body, like in proliferating epithelia and on activated lymphocytes. One of the splice variants has been shown to confer metastatic potential to nonmetastasizing rat tumour cells. We have therefore generated monoclonal antibodies against the variant region of human CD44. These antibodies have been utilized to screen large collections of carcinomas (breast, colon, kidney), skin, bone and brain tumours, lymphomas and neuroblastomas. They may be valuable tools for tumour progression diagnosis.

Paper presented at the International Symposium on Genetic Factors in Predictive and Preventive Oncology; Nice, France; March 14-16, 1993; in the section on Prognostic Indicators.