Hyaluronan: biosynthesis and signaling

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014 Aug;1840(8):2452-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2014.02.001. Epub 2014 Feb 7.


Background: Hyaluronan is a critical component of extracellular matrix with several different roles. Besides the contribution to the tissue hydration, mechanical properties and correct architecture, hyaluronan plays important biological functions interacting with different molecules and receptors.

Scope of review: The review addresses the control of hyaluronan synthesis highlighting the critical role of hyaluronan synthase 2 in this context as well as discussing the recent findings related to covalent modifications which influence the enzyme activity. Moreover, the interactions with specific receptors and hyaluronan are described focusing on the importance of polymer size in the modulation of hyaluronan signaling.

Major conclusions: Due to its biological effects on cells recently described, it is evident how hyaluronan is to be considered not only a passive component of extracellular matrix but also an actor involved in several scenarios of cell behavior.

General significance: The effects of metabolism on the control of hyaluronan synthesis both in healthy and pathologic conditions are critical and still not completely understood. The hyaluronan capacity to bind several receptors triggering specific pathways may represent a valid target for new approach in several therapeutic strategies. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Matrix-mediated cell behaviour and properties.

Keywords: AMPK; Extracellular matrix; Glycosaminoglycan; Hyaluronan receptor; O-GlcNacylation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biosynthetic Pathways
  • Humans
  • Hyaluronan Receptors / chemistry
  • Hyaluronan Receptors / metabolism
  • Hyaluronic Acid / biosynthesis*
  • Hyaluronic Acid / chemistry
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Hyaluronan Receptors
  • Hyaluronic Acid