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Podoplanin associates with CD44 to promote directional cell migration.

Martin-Villar E., Fernandez-Munoz B., Parsons M., Yurrita M.M., Megias D., Perez-Gomez E., Jones G.E., Quintanilla M.

Podoplanin is a transmembrane glycoprotein up-regulated in different human tumors, especially those derived from squamous stratified epithelia (SCCs). Its expression in tumor cells is linked to increased cell migration and invasiveness; however, the mechanisms underlying this process remain poorly understood. Here we report that CD44, the major hyaluronan (HA) receptor, is a novel partner for podoplanin. Expression of the CD44 standard isoform (CD44s) is coordinately up-regulated together with that of podoplanin during progression to highly aggressive SCCs in a mouse skin model of carcinogenesis, and during epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). In carcinoma cells, CD44 and podoplanin colocalize at cell surface protrusions. Moreover, CD44 recruitment promoted by HA-coated beads or cross-linking with a specific CD44 antibody induced corecruitment of podoplanin. Podoplanin-CD44s interaction was demonstrated both by coimmunoprecipitation experiments and, in vivo, by fluorescence resonance energy transfer/fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy (FRET/FLIM), the later confirming its association on the plasma membrane of cells with a migratory phenotype. Importantly, we also show that podoplanin promotes directional persistence of motility in epithelial cells, a feature that requires CD44, and that both molecules cooperate to promote directional migration in SCC cells. Our results support a role for CD44-podoplanin interaction in driving tumor cell migration during malignancy.

Mol. Biol. Cell 21:4387-4399(2010) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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