A 90-kD lymphocyte surface glycoprotein, defined by monoclonal antibodies of the Hermes series, is involved in lymphocyte recognition of high endothelial venules (HEV). Lymphocyte gp90Hermes binds in a saturable, reversible fashion to the mucosal vascular addressin (MAd), a tissue-specific endothelial cell adhesion molecule for lymphocytes. We and others have recently shown that the Hermes antigen is identical to or includes CD44 (In[Lu]-related p80), human Pgp-1, and extracellular matrix receptor III-molecules reportedly expressed on diverse cell types. Here, we examine the relationship between lymphoid and nonlymphoid Hermes antigens using serologic, biochemical, and, most importantly, functional assays. Consistent with studies using mAbs to CD44 or Pgp-1, mAbs against five different epitopes on lymphocyte gp90Hermes reacted with a wide variety of nonhematolymphoid cells in diverse normal human tissues, including many types of epithelium, mesenchymal elements such as fibroblasts and smooth muscle, and a subset of glia in the central nervous system. To ask whether these non-lymphoid molecules might also be functionally homologous to lymphocyte homing receptors, we assessed their ability to interact with purified MAd using fluorescence energy transfer techniques. The Hermes antigen isolated from both glial cells and fibroblasts--which express a predominant 90-kD form similar in relative molecular mass, isoelectric point, and protease sensitivity to lymphocyte gp90Hermes--was able to bind purified MAd. In contrast, a 140-160-kD form of the Hermes antigen isolated from squamous epithelial cells lacked this capability. Like lymphocyte binding to mucosal HEV, the interaction between glial gp90Hermes and MAd is inhibited by mAb Hermes-3, but not Hermes-1, suggesting that similar molecular domains are involved in the two binding events. The observation that the Hermes/CD44 molecules derived from several nonlymphoid cell types display binding domains homologous to those of lymphocyte homing receptors suggests that these glycoproteins represent a novel type of cell adhesion/recognition molecule (H-CAM) potentially mediating cell-cell or cell-matrix interactions in multiple tissues.

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