CD44 is a receptor for hyaluronan and mediates signaling that regulates complex cell behavior including cancer cell migration and invasion. Shedding of the extracellular portion of CD44 is the last step in the regulation of the molecule-releasing interaction between the ligand and cell. However, highly glycosylated forms of CD44 have hampered the identification of the exact cleavage sites for shedding and the responsible proteases. In this study, we found that expression of membrane-type 1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP) increased shedding of the 65-70 kDa CD44H (standard form) fragments and generated two additional smaller fragments. We purified the shed fragments and identified the cleaved sites by mass spectrometry. Specific antibodies that recognize the newly exposed COOH terminus by cleavage were prepared and used to analyze shedding at each site. Shedding of the 65-70 kDa fragments was inhibited by tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 3 (TIMP-3) but not by TIMP-1 and TIMP-2, suggesting involvement of a disintegrin and metalloproteinase (ADAM)-like proteases, although shedding is affected by MT1-MMP. Conversely, shedding of the two smaller fragments was inhibited by TIMP-2 and TIMP-3 but not TIMP-1, suggesting involvement of MT1-MMP itself. Shed fragments cleaved at these sites were also detected in human tumor tissues. Increased shedding at one of the MT1-MMP-sensitive sites was observed in the tumor compared with the surrounding normal tissue. However, no significant difference was observed with shedding by ADAM-like proteases. Thus, the cleavage sites for the shedding of CD44H were identified for the first time, and the results provide a basis for exploring the unknown biologic roles of shedding at different sites.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research