HA receptors: regulators of signalling to the cytoskeleton

J Cell Biochem. 1996 Jun 15;61(4):569-77. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-4644(19960616)61:4<569::aid-jcb10>3.0.co;2-b.


Hyaluronan (HA) is a ubiquitous component of the extracellular matrix (ECM) and occurs transiently in both the cell nucleus and cytoplasm. It has been shown to promote cell motility, adhesion, and proliferation and thus it has an important role in such processes as morphogenesis, wound repair, inflammation, and metastasis. These processes require massive cell movement and tissue reorganization and are always accompanied by elevated levels of HA. Many of the effects of HA are mediated through cell surface receptors, three of which have been molecularly characterized, namely CD44, RHAMM, and ICAM-1. Binding of the HA ligand to its receptors triggers signal transduction events which, in concert with other ECM and cytoskeletal components, can direct cell trafficking during physiological and pathological events. The HA mediated signals are transmitted, at least in part, by the activation of protein phosphorylation cascades, cytokine release, and the stimulation of cell cycle proteins. A variety of extracellular signals regulate the expression of both HA and the receptors necessitating that HA-receptor signalling is a tightly controlled process. Regulated production of soluble forms of the receptors, alternately spliced cell surface isoforms, and glycosylation variants of these receptors can dramatically modulate HA binding, ligand specificity, and stimulation of the signalling pathway. When these processes are deregulated cell behaviour becomes uncontrolled leading to developmental abnormalities, abnormal physiological responses, and tumorigenesis. The elucidation of the molecular mechanisms regulating HA-mediated events will not only contribute greatly to our understanding of a variety of disease processes but will also offer many new avenues of therapeutic intervention.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytoskeleton / physiology*
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / physiology
  • Hyaluronan Receptors / physiology*
  • Hyaluronic Acid / metabolism
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / physiology
  • Ligands
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Hyaluronan Receptors
  • Ligands
  • hyaluronan-mediated motility receptor
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Hyaluronic Acid