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Hyaluronan (HA) is a linear glycosaminoglycan (GAG) of extracellular matrix (ECM) synthesized by three hyaluronan synthases (HASes) at the plasma membrane using uridine diphosphate (UDP)-glucuronic acid (UDP-GlcUA) and UDP-N-acetylglucosamine (UDP-GlcNAc) as substrates. The production of HA is mainly regulated by hyaluronan synthase 2 (HAS2), that can be controlled at different levels, from epigenetics to transcriptional and post-translational modifications. HA biosynthesis is an energy-consuming process and, along with HA catabolism, is strongly connected to the maintenance of metabolic homeostasis. The cytoplasmic pool of UDP-sugars is critical for HA synthesis. UDP-GlcNAc is an important nutrient sensor and serves as donor substrate for the O-GlcNAcylation of many cytosolic proteins, including HAS2. This post-translational modification stabilizes HAS2 in the membrane and increases HA production. Conversely, HAS2 can be phosphorylated by AMP activated protein kinase (AMPK), a master metabolic regulator activated by low ATP/AMP ratios, which inhibits HA secretion. Similarly, HAS2 expression and the deposition of HA within the pericellular coat are inhibited by sirtuin 1 (SIRT1), another important energetic sensor, confirming the tight connection between nutrients availability and HA metabolism.


Ilaria Caon, Arianna Parnigoni, Manuela Viola, Evgenia Karousou, Alberto Passi, Davide Vigetti. Cell Energy Metabolism and Hyaluronan Synthesis. The journal of histochemistry and cytochemistry : official journal of the Histochemistry Society. 2021 Jan;69(1):35-47

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PMID: 32623953

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