A recently described splice variant of CD44 expressed in metastasizing cell lines of rat tumors, has been shown to confer metastatic potential to nonmetastasizing rat pancreatic carcinoma and sarcoma cell lines. Using antibodies raised against a bacterial fusion protein encoded by variant CD44 sequences, we have explored the expression of variant CD44 glycoproteins on human lymphoid cells and tissues and on non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. Normal lymphohematopoietic cells express barely detectable low levels of variant CD44 glycoproteins, whereas T lymphocytes, upon activation by mitogen or antigen, transiently upregulate expression of specific CD44 variant glycoproteins. The reaction pattern of various antibodies indicates that these CD44 variants contain the domain encoded by exon v6, which is part of the variant that in the rat confers metastatic capability. It is interesting that overexpression of v6 was also found in several aggressive, but not low-grade, non-Hodgkin's lymphomas.

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