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The human CD44 cell surface glycoprotein has been involved in a variety of functions including lymphocyte homing, extracellular cell matrix attachment and tumour metastasis. A large family of variants or isoforms, generated by alternative splicing of a single gene, has been reported to be involved in the malignant process, by conferring metastatic potential to non-metastatic cells. Neuroblastoma is a tumour characterised by an aggressive and metastatic behaviour in advanced stages, with amplification of the MYCN protooncogene. In this report, we show that the CD44 standard molecule was highly expressed in the majority of tumours of stages 1-3, in all stage 4s and ganglioneuromas, but only in a subset of stage 4 tumours. A lack of CD44 expression was observed in all MYCN amplified stage 4 tumours, thus demonstrating a highly significant inverse relationship between MYCN amplification and CD44 expression in neuroblastoma. In addition, the expression of 4 different CD44 isoforms was measured on all specimens and was always found to be negative. Using neuroblastoma cell lines and MYCN expressing transfectants, we show that CD44 expression by neuroblastoma cell lines is not directly related to MYCN amplification, but is associated to the stage of differentiation or lineage, and to the tumorigenic properties of the cells. In addition, CD44 expression can be upmodulated parallel to differentiation or maturation as induced by retinoic acid, bromodeoxyuridine or phorbol ester. In contrast, cytokines such as IFN gamma, TNF alpha, or growth factors such as bFGF, SCF and TGF beta were ineffective in modulating CD44 expression.


Journal article


Eur J Cancer

Publication Date





471 - 475


Biomarkers, Tumor, Blotting, Northern, Cell Differentiation, Cytokines, Gene Amplification, Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic, Genes, myc, Humans, Hyaluronan Receptors, Immunoenzyme Techniques, Neuroblastoma, Tumor Cells, Cultured