Spatial and temporal expression of CD44 isoforms in the developing and growing joints of the rat limb



Hyaluronan is an integral component of proteoglycan-rich extracellular matrices such as hyaline cartilage. Hyaluronan is commonly found in embryonic tissue and is important in the formation of hydrated matrices that allow cellular expansion and migration. Cell surface hyaluronan-binding proteins such as CD44 are presumed to be important in the cellular interactions with hyaluronan in both of these processes. The primary aim of this study was to document the spatial and temporal expressions of CD44 isoforms during the development and growth of the diarthrodial joints of rat limbs. With use of in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry, the CD44s isoform is selectively identified as localized to a single cell layer on opposing sides of the joint at the first appearance of joint cavitation (on the 18th day of gestation). After joint formation in the neonate, the expression of the CD44s isoform in the cells at the joint surface is lost. These findings suggest that the CD44s isoform has a role in the development of the diarthrodial joint, presumably through interaction with hyaluronan.