Involvement of CD44 and the cytoskeletal linker protein ankyrin in human neutrophil bacterial phagocytosis

Frederick L. Moffat, Tieran Han, Zhi Ming Li, Michael D. Peck, Rudolf E. Falk, Paul B. Spalding, Wenche Jy, Yeon S. Ahn, Arthur J. Chu, Lilly Y.W. Bourguignon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The leukocyte CD44 and CD45 cell surface receptors are associated via the linker proteins ankyrin and fodrin with the cytoskeleton, which itself is important in immune cell functions such as adherence, chemotaxis, and phagocytosis. The effects of rat antihuman CD44 and CD45 monoclonal antibodies on phagocytosis of fluoresceinated heat-killed Staphylococcus aureus 502A by normal human neutrophils (PMNs) during 2 hr incubation in RPMI-1640 was studied via flow cytometry and confocal microscopy. Flow cytometry was performed using an excitation wavelength of 488 nm, fluorescence being measured at 515-560 nm on 50,000 PMNs per sample. Confocal microscopy was performed on samples after further incubation with rhodamine-conjugated antiankyrin. Anti-CD44 resulted in an increase of 27-31% compared to control (P = 0.004) in the proportion of PMNs fluorescing, an increase of 17-24% (P = 0.001) in mean intracellular fluorescence per PMN, and an increase in total PMN fluorescence of 50-58% compared to control (P < 0.001). In contrast, anti-CD45 had little effect on phagocytosis. Colchicine (a microtubule-disrupting agent) enhanced, whereas cytochalasin-D (a microfilament inhibitor) inhibited bacterial phagocytosis; cytochalasin-D completely abrogated the effect of anti-CD44 on this PMN function. Hyaluronic acid augmented phagocytosis by an increment similar to that observed with anti-CD44. Two-color flow cytometry and confocal microscopy demonstrated that ankyrin always colocalized with ingested fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-labeled bacteria. These data strongly suggest that CD44 is involved in bacterial phagocytosis, provide further evidence of CD44 receptor linkage to cytoskeletal elements in human leukocytes, and suggest that ankyrin has a significant role in the transport of phagosomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)638-647
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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