The dynamic metabolism of hyaluronan regulates the cytosolic concentration of UDP-GlcNAc

Matrix Biol. 2014 Apr;35:14-7. doi: 10.1016/j.matbio.2014.01.014. Epub 2014 Jan 30.


Hyaluronan, a macromolecular glycosaminoglycan, is normally synthesized by hyaluronan synthases at the plasma membrane using cytosolic UDP-GlcUA and UDP-GlcNAc substrates and extruding the elongating chain into the extracellular space. The cellular metabolism (synthesis and catabolism) of hyaluronan is dynamic. UDP-GlcNAc is also the substrate for O-GlcNAc transferase, which is central to the control of many cytosolic pathways. This Perspective outlines recent data for regulation of hyaluronan synthesis and catabolism that support a model that hyaluronan metabolism can be a rheostat for controlling an acceptable normal range of cytosolic UDP-GlcNAc concentrations in order to maintain normal cell functions.

Keywords: Hyaluronan; Hyaluronan synthases; O-GlcNAc transferase; UDP-GlcNAc.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Physiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Cytosol / metabolism*
  • Endosomes / metabolism
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hyaluronan Synthases
  • Hyaluronic Acid / biosynthesis*
  • Hyaluronic Acid / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Uridine Diphosphate N-Acetylglucosamine / metabolism*


  • Uridine Diphosphate N-Acetylglucosamine
  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • Glucuronosyltransferase
  • HAS2 protein, human
  • Hyaluronan Synthases