Hyaluronan-CD44/RHAMM interaction-dependent cell proliferation and survival in lung cancer cells

Jung Min Song, Jintaek Im, Richard Seonghun Nho, Yong Hwan Han, Pramod Upadhyaya, Fekadu Kassie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Although members of the hyaluronan (HA)-CD44/HA-mediated motility receptor (RHAMM) signaling pathway have been shown to be overexpressed in lung cancer, their role in lung tumorigenesis is unclear. In the present study, we first determined levels of HA and its receptors CD44 and RHAMM in human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells and stromal cells as well as mouse lung tumors. Subsequently, we examined the role of HA-CD44/RHAMM signaling pathway in mediating the proliferation and survival of NSCLC cells and the cross-talk between NSCLC cells and normal human lung fibroblasts (NHLFs)/lung cancer-associated fibroblasts (LCAFs). The highest levels of HA and CD44 were observed in NHLFs/LCAFs followed by NSCLC cells, whereas THP-1 monocytes/macrophages showed negligible levels of both HA and CD44. Simultaneous silencing of HA synthase 2 (HAS2) and HAS3 or CD44 and RHAMM suppressed cell proliferation and survival as well as the EGFR/AKT/ERK signaling pathway. Exogenous HA partially rescued the defect in cell proliferation and survival. Moreover, conditioned media (CM) generated by NHLFs/LCAFs enhanced the proliferation of NSCLC cells in a HA-dependent manner as treatment of NHLFs and LCAFs with HAS2 siRNA, 4-methylumbelliferone, an inhibitor of HASs, LY2228820, an inhibitor of p38MAPK, or treatment of A549 cells with CD44 blocking antibody suppressed the effects of the CM. Upon incubation in CM generated by A549 cells or THP-1 macrophages, NHLFs/LCAFs secreted higher concentrations of HA. Overall, our findings indicate that targeting the HA-CD44/RHAMM signaling pathway could be a promising approach for the prevention and therapy of lung cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-333
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Carcinogenesis
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was financially supported by faculty start-up fund from Masonic Cancer Center and the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota (FK).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • CD44
  • hyaluronan
  • hyaluronan-mediated motility receptor
  • lung cancer-associated fibroblasts
  • non-small cell lung cancer


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