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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The role of a new CD44st in increasing the invasion capability of the human breast cancer cell line MCF-7

Xin Jian Fang1, Hua Jiang1*, Xv Peng Zhao2 and Wei Mei Jiang1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medical Oncology, The second People's Hospital of Lianyungang (Lianyungang Hospital affiliated to Bengbu medical college), No. 41, Hailian east Road, Lianyungang, Jiangsu 222000, The People's Republic of China

2 Department of Emergency surgery, The fourth affiliated hospital of Chinese Medical Sciences University. No. 4, Chongshan east Road, Shen Yang 110032, The People's Republic of China

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BMC Cancer 2011, 11:290  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-290

Published: 12 July 2011



CD44, a hyaluronan (HA) receptor, is a multistructural and multifunctional cell surface molecule involved in cell proliferation, cell differentiation, cell migration, angiogenesis, presentation of cytokines, chemokines and growth factors to the corresponding receptors, and docking of proteases at the cell membrane, as well as in signaling for cell survival. The CD44 gene contains 20 exons that are alternatively spliced, giving rise to many CD44 isoforms, perhaps including tumor-specific sequences.


Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and Western blotting were used to detect CD44st mRNA and CD44 protein in sensitive MCF-7, Lovo, K562 and HL-60 cell lines as well as their parental counterparts, respectively. The full length cDNA encoding CD44st was obtained from the total RNA isolated from MCF-7/Adr cells by RT-PCR, and subcloned into the pMD19-T vector. The CD44st gene sequence and open reading frame were confirmed by restriction enzyme analysis and nucleotide sequencing, and then inserted into the eukaryotic expression vector pcDNA3.1. The pcDNA3.1-CD44st was transfected into MCF-7 cells using Lipofectamine. After transfection, the positive clones were obtained by G418 screening. The changes of the MMP-2 and MMP-9 genes and protein levels were detected by RT-PCR and gelatin zymography, respectively. The number of the cells penetrating through the artificial matrix membrane in each group (MCF-7, MCF-7+HA, MCF-7/neo, MCF-7/neo+HA, MCF-7/CD44st, MCF-7/CD44st+HA and MCF-7/CD44st+Anti-CD44+HA) was counted to compare the change of the invasion capability regulated by the CD44st. Erk and P-Erk were investigated by Western blotting to approach the molecular mechanisms of MMP-2 and MMP-9 expression regulated by the CD44st.


Sensitive MCF-7, Lovo, K562 and HL-60 cells did not contain CD44st mRNA and CD44 protein. In contrast, the multidrug resistance MCF-7/Adr, Lovo/Adr, K562/Adr and HL-60/Adr cells expressed CD44st mRNA and CD44 protein. The CD44st mRNA gene sequence was successfully cloned into the recombinant vector pcDNA3.1 and identified by the two restriction enzymes. It was confirmed that the reconstructed plasmid contained the gene sequence of CD44st that was composed of exons 1 to 4, 16 to 17, and 1 to 205 bases of exons 18. The new gene sequence was sent to NCBI for publication, and obtained the registration number FJ216964. The up-regulated level of the mRNA of the CD44 gene and the CD44 protein were detected, respectively, by RT-PCR and flow cytometry in MCF-7 cells transfected with pcDNA3.1-CD44st. The invasiveness of the cells and the activity of MMP-2 and MMP-9 were clearly activated by HA treatment, and blocked by CD44 neutralizing antibody. MCF-7/CD44st cells pretreated with the neutralizing antibody against CD44, and the inhibitor of MAPKs signaling pathway, could strongly block the expression of P-Erk.


A new CD44st was expressed in multidrug resistant MCF-7/Adr, Lovo/Adr, K562/Adr and HL-60/Adr cells. The expression vector pcDNA3.1-CD44st was cloned and constructed successfully, and stably transfected into MCF-7 cells. HA could interact with the new CD44st and regulate the expression of MMP-2 and MMP-9, which could increase the invasion capability of MCF-7 cells through the Ras/MAPK signaling pathway.