CD44 mediates oligosaccharides of hyaluronan-induced proliferation, tube formation and signal transduction in endothelial cells.
ABSTRACT Oligosaccharides of hyaluronan (o-HA) can induce angiogenesis and the growth and tube formation of vascular endothelial cells (ECs) in particular. As the major o-HA receptor, CD44 has been implicated in EC function, but its role in mediating o-HA-induced EC proliferation and tube formation remains unclear. In this study, we investigated the role of CD44 in o-HA-induced proliferation and tube formation of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) and explored the molecular mechanisms underlying the angiogenesis process. A CD44 siRNA was delivered into HUVECs by electroporation and o-HA-induced proliferation and tube formation capacity of CD44-silenced or control HUVECs were assessed by methylthiazolyldiphenyl-tetrazolium bromide (MTT) and Matrigel assays. Furthermore, the changes in Src, focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase1 and 2 (ERK1/2) phosphorylation, as well as the expression of c-jun and c-fos were examined by Western blot and realtime-polymerase chain reaction assays. Our results demonstrated that 10 μg/mL o-HA obviously induced the proliferation and tube formation in HUVECs, and stimulated the phosphorylation of Src, FAK and ERK1/2 and upregulation of c-jun and c-fos, which could be inhibited by CD44 silencing. Altogether our data suggest that CD44 functions to initiate tyrosine phosphorylation of Src, FAK and ERK1/2, and upregulates the expression of c-jun and c-fos, thus mediating o-HA-induced proliferation and tube formation in HUVECs.