Hyaluronan in the lymphatics: The key role of the hyaluronan receptor LYVE-1 in leucocyte trafficking.
LYVE-1, a close relative of the leucocyte receptor, CD44, is the main receptor for hyaluronan (HA) in lymphatic vessel endothelium and a widely used marker for distinguishing between blood and lymphatic vessels. Enigmatic for many years because of its anomalous HA-binding characteristics, the function of LYVE-1 has just recently been identified as that of a lymphatic docking receptor for dendritic cells, selectively engaging with their surface HA glycocalyx to regulate entry to peripheral lymphatics and migration to downstream lymph nodes for immune activation. Furthermore, LYVE-1 mediates the trafficking of macrophages, and is also exploited by HA-encapsulated Group A streptococci for lymphatic invasion and host dissemination. Consistent with a role in lymphatic trafficking, the interaction of LYVE-1 with HA and its degradation products can also activate intracellular signalling pathways for endothelial junctional retraction and lymphatic endothelial proliferation. Here we outline the latest findings on the receptor in the context of its peculiar biochemical properties and speculate on how the interaction of LYVE-1 with different HA sizes and conformations might variably influence cell function as a consequence of avidity and receptor crosslinking. Finally, we evaluate evidence that LYVE-1 can also bind growth factors and associate with kinase-linked growth factor receptors and conclude on how the LYVE-1·HA axis may be exploited as a target to either block inflammation or tissue allograft rejection, or potentiate vaccine and drug delivery.