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Matrix Hyaluronan-Activated CD44 Signaling Promotes Keratinocyte Activities and Improves Abnormal Epidermal Functions

American Journal Of Pathology
DOI: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2014.03.010
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Hyaluronan (HA), a major component of the extracellular matrix, is enriched in skin tissues, particularly the epidermis. HA binds to a ubiquitous, abundant, and functionally important family of cell surface receptors, CD44. This article reviews the current evidence for HA/CD44-mediated activation of RhoGTPase signaling and calcium mobilization, leading to the regulation of keratinocyte activities and various epidermal functions. It further discusses the role of HA-mediated CD44 interactions with unique downstream effectors, such as RhoGTPases (RhoA and Rac1), Rho-kinase, protein kinase-Nγ, and phosphoinositide-specific phospholipases (phospholipases Cε and Cγ1) in coordinating certain intracellular signaling pathways, such as calcium mobilization, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase–AKT activation, cortactin-actin binding, and actin-associated cytoskeleton reorganization; generating the onset of important keratinocyte activities, such as cell adhesion, proliferation, migration, and differentiation; and performing epidermal functions. Topical application of selective HA fragments (large versus small HA) to the skin of wild-type mice (but not CD44 knockout mice) improves keratinocyte-associated epidermal functions and accelerates permeability barrier recovery and skin wound healing. Consequently, specific HA fragment (large versus small HA)–mediated signaling events (through the CD44 receptor) are required for keratinocyte activities, which offer new HA-based therapeutic options for patients experiencing epidermal dysfunction and skin damage as well as aging-related skin diseases, such as epidermal thinning (atrophy), permeability barrier dysfunction, and chronic nonhealing wounds.

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