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Exogenous hyaluronan is known to alter muscle precursor cell proliferation, migration, and differentiation, ultimately inhibiting myogenesis in vitro. The aim of the current study was to investigate the role of endogenous hyaluronan synthesis during myogenesis. In quantitative PCR studies, the genes responsible for synthesizing hyaluronan were found to be differentially regulated during muscle growth, repair, and pathology. Although all Has genes (Has1, Has2, and Has3) were differentially regulated in these models, only Has2 gene expression consistently associated with myogenic differentiation. During myogenic differentiation in vitro, Has2 was the most highly expressed of the synthases and increased after induction of differentiation. To test whether this association between Has2 expression and myogenesis relates to a role for Has2 in myoblast differentiation and fusion, C2C12 myoblasts were depleted of Has2 by siRNA and induced to differentiate. Depletion of Has2 inhibited differentiation and caused a loss of cell-associated hyaluronan and the hyaluronan-dependent pericellular matrix. The inhibition of differentiation caused by loss of hyaluronan was confirmed with the hyaluronan synthesis inhibitor 4-methylumbelliferone. In hyaluronan synthesis-blocked cultures, restoration of the pericellular matrix could be achieved through the addition of exogenous hyaluronan and the proteoglycan versican, but this was not sufficient to restore differentiation to control levels. These data indicate that intrinsic hyaluronan synthesis is necessary for myoblasts to differentiate and form syncytial muscle cells, but the hyaluronan-dependent pericellular matrix is not sufficient to support differentiation alone; additional hyaluronan-dependent cell functions that are yet unknown may be required for myogenic differentiation.


Liam C Hunt, Chris Gorman, Christopher Kintakas, Daniel R McCulloch, Eleanor J Mackie, Jason D White. Hyaluronan synthesis and myogenesis: a requirement for hyaluronan synthesis during myogenic differentiation independent of pericellular matrix formation. The Journal of biological chemistry. 2013 May 3;288(18):13006-21

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PMID: 23493399

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