The CD44-negative T lymphoma AKR1 (CD44.2 genotype) was transfected with a CD44.1 cDNA. The intact cDNA conferred on the transfected cells the ability to bind hyaluronic acid (HA) both from solution and immobilized on culture plates. It also conferred a CD44-dependent and hyaluronidase-sensitive increase in adhesion to a lymph node endothelial cell line. A mutant cDNA which codes for a CD44 molecule lacking most of the cytoplasmic domain of CD44 was also transfected into AKR1, and cell sorting was used to select transfectants expressing levels of cell surface CD44 expression comparable with the line transfected with the wild-type CD44 cDNA. The cells transfected with the mutant construct bound fluoresceinated HA from solution very poorly, but did adhere to immobilized HA, though less well than cells transfected with the wild-type construct. This result indicates that the cytoplasmic domain of CD44 is necessary for binding of HA from solution but is not required for binding to immobilized HA, although it may contribute to adhesion following ligand recognition. A monoclonal antibody (mAb), IRAWB 14, which reacts with CD44 on all CD44+ cells dramatically induced HA binding by some CD44+ cell lines that did not constitutively bind HA. The transfectant expressing a CD44 molecule with a truncated cytoplasmic domain could be induced by this antibody to bind fluoresceinated-HA from solution. Splenic T cells did not bind fluoresceinated HA constitutively. In the presence of the IRAWB 14 mAb, virtually all CD44+ splenic T cells bound HA. Induction was immediate and occurred equally well at room temperature and at 4 degrees C, indicating that the new HA-binding activity was due to preexistent CD44 molecules. These results are compatible with an antibody-induced activation of CD44 by either a conformational change in the CD44 molecule or a change in the distribution of CD44 molecules on the cell surface.

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