CD38 functions are regulated through an internalization step

Ada Funaro, Milan Reiniš, Oriana Trubiani, Spartaco Santi, Roberto Di Primio, Fabio Malavasi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The endocytosis of the human CD38 molecule has been investigated in normal lymphocytes and in a number of leukemia- and lymphoma-derived cell lines. CD38 internalization was followed using radioiodinated Abs in an acidic elution endocytosis assay to monitor the effects of cross-linking on internalization processes and to quantify the ratio of the internalized molecule. Second, conventional, confocal, and electron microscopies were used to evaluate the morphologic effects induced by ligation of the molecule with Abs mimicking the natural ligand(s). The results demonstrated that internalization is a reproducible phenomenon following CD38 ligation with both agonistic and nonagonistic specific Abs and involving only a fraction of the entire amount of the surface molecule. It is independent from signal transduction as can be inferred by the observation that 1) both agonistic and non agonistic Abs are effective and 2) the dynamic of internalization is much slower than that of cellular signaling. Morphologic studies demonstrated that endocytosis induced as a result of CD38 ligation presents a very specific pathway consisting of subcellular organelles fundamental to the processing of the complex. Our data indicate that down-regulation by endocytosis may be, in parallel with shedding, a regulatory element in activation and adhesion processes mediated by CD38. However, internalization seems not to be a key step in triggering intracellular signaling; more likely, it is a negative feedback control mechanism which interrupts signal trausduction or cell-cell cross-talks mediated by membrane CD38.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2238-2247
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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