The extracellular matrix glycosaminoglycan hyaluronan (HA) is an abundant component of skin and mesenchymal tissues where it facilitates cell migration during wound healing, inflammation, and embryonic morphogenesis. Both during normal tissue homeostasis and particularly after tissue injury, HA is mobilized from these sites through lymphatic vessels to the lymph nodes where it is degraded before entering the circulation for rapid uptake by the liver. Currently, however, the identities of HA binding molecules which control this pathway are unknown. Here we describe the first such molecule, LYVE-1, which we have identified as a major receptor for HA on the lymph vessel wall. The deduced amino acid sequence of LYVE-1 predicts a 322-residue type I integral membrane polypeptide 41% similar to the CD44 HA receptor with a 212-residue extracellular domain containing a single Link module the prototypic HA binding domain of the Link protein superfamily. Like CD44, the LYVE-1 molecule binds both soluble and immobilized HA. However, unlike CD44, the LYVE-1 molecule colocalizes with HA on the luminal face of the lymph vessel wall and is completely absent from blood vessels. Hence, LYVE-1 is the first lymph-specific HA receptor to be characterized and is a uniquely powerful marker for lymph vessels themselves.
J Cell Biol
789 - 801