CD44, a major hyaluronate receptor, is involved in a variety of lymphocyte functions including lympho-hemopoiesis, adhesion to high endothelial venules or the extracellular matrix, and T cell activation. Here we investigated the ability of CD44 to affect the cytotoxic functions of human NK cells. Ligation of CD44 by selected mAb (J173 and F10442) resulted in a rapid, dose-response-dependent enhancement of NK cytotoxic activity against a panel of tumor target cells that varied in their sensitivity to NK killing. Neither enhanced killing against NK-resistant target cells nor CD44 mAb-mediated redirected lysis was not observed. CD44 cross-linking also was found to up-regulate CD16-mediated lysis. In an attempt to investigate the early biochemical events that occur after CD44 ligation, we found that optimal cross-linking conditions induce a rapid increase of intracellular free calcium levels, which is abrogated by extracellular Ca2+ chelation. Moreover, enhanced and more sustained Ca2+ rise resulted from CD16 and CD44 coengagement. In contrast, no inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate generation was found after optimal CD44 cross-linking. These results suggest that although CD44 is not capable of delivering a lytic signal in human NK cells, it coactivates spontaneous or CD16-mediated NK cytotoxicity. The variation in intracellular free calcium may be one of the signals that account for the costimulation of the lytic activity.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.