Tumor growth is dependent in part on interactions between tumor cells and the extracellular matrix of host tissues. Expression of the cell surface glycoprotein CD44/Pgp-1, which mediates cell-substrate interactions is increased in many types of malignancies, but the role of CD44 in tumor growth is largely undefined. Recently, two isoforms of CD44 have been identified: an 80-90 kD form, which has high affinity for cell bound hyaluronate and a 150 kD form which does not mediate attachment to hyaluronate-coated surfaces. In this work, human B cell lymphoma cells stably transfected with cDNA clones encoding either of the two CD44 isoforms were compared for tumorigenicity and metastatic potential in nude mice. Expression of the 80-90 kD form but not the 150 kD form of CD44 greatly enhanced both local tumor formation and metastatic proclivity of the lymphoma cells. Our results suggest that CD44 polypeptides may play an important role in regulating primary and metastatic tumor development in vivo.

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