The biology of CD44 and HCELL in hematopoiesis: The 'step 2-bypass pathway' and other emerging perspectives Article

cited authors

  • Sackstein, R

fiu authors


  • Purpose of Review: The homing and egress of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) to and from marrow, respectively, and the proliferation and differentiation of HSPCs within marrow are complex processes critically regulated by the ordered expression and function of adhesion molecules that direct key cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions. The integral membrane molecule CD44, known primarily for its role in binding hyaluronic acid, is characteristically expressed on HSPCs. Conspicuously, human HSPCs uniquely display a specialized glycoform of CD44 known as hematopoietic cell E-/L-selectin ligand (HCELL), which is the most potent ligand for both E-selectin and L-selectin expressed on human cells. This review focuses on recent advances in our understanding of the biology of CD44 and HCELL in hematopoiesis. Recent Findings: New data indicate that CD44-mediated events in hematopoiesis are more complex than previously imagined. Ex-vivo glycan engineering has established that HCELL serves as a 'bone marrow homing receptor'. Moreover, biochemical studies now show that CD44 forms bimolecular complexes with a variety of membrane proteins, one of which is VLA-4. Engagement of CD44 or of HCELL directly induces VLA-4 activation via G-protein-dependent signaling, triggering a 'step 2-bypass pathway' of cell migration, and extravascular lodgment, in absence of chemokine receptor engagement. Summary: Recent studies have further clarified the roles of CD44 and its glycoform HCELL in hematopoietic processes, providing key insights on how targeting these molecules may be beneficial in promoting hematopoiesis and in treating hematologic malignancies. © 2011 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

publication date

  • July 1, 2011

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

start page

  • 239

end page

  • 248


  • 18


  • 4