The large family of CD44 splice variants are likely to serve multiple functions in the embryo and in the adult organism. This is reflected in their complex patterns of expression. In molecular terms these functions are largely unknown. Certain splice variants (CD44v) can promote the metastatic behaviour of cancer cells. In human colon and breast cancer the presence of epitopes encoded by exon v6 on primary resected tumour material indicates poor prognosis. Metastasis-promoting splice variants differ from those that seem not to have a role in the induction of metastasis by the formation of homomultimeric complexes in the plasma membrane of cells. This may increase their affinity to ligands such as hyaluronate. The affinity can be further regulated over a range from low to very high by cell-specific modification. The fact that CD44v epitopes are found on normal epithelial cells such as skin, cervical epithelium and bladder enforces cautious evaluation of the significance of CD44v expression in human cancer. Nevertheless, certain epitopes can serve as tools in early diagnosis of certain cancers and will facilitate the development of specific targeted therapy.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Pages (from-to)||142-151; discussion 151-156, 174-176|
|Journal||Ciba Foundation symposium|
|State||Published - 1995|
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