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J Biol Chem. 1999 Jul 30;274(31):21893-9.

Antisense inhibition of hyaluronan synthase-2 in human articular chondrocytes inhibits proteoglycan retention and matrix assembly.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Rush Medical College, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA.


In order to define the role of cell-associated hyaluronan in cartilage matrix retention, human articular chondrocytes as well as cartilage slices were treated with phosphorothioate oligonucleotides comprised of sequence antisense to the mRNA of human HA synthase-2 (HAS-2). As a prerequisite for these studies, it was necessary to determine which HA synthase (HAS), of three separate human genes capable of synthesizing HA, designated HAS-1, HAS-2, or HAS-3, is primarily responsible for HA synthesis in human articular chondrocytes. The copy number of each HAS mRNA expressed in cultured human articular chondrocytes was determined using quantitative (competitive) reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Only HAS-2 and HAS-3 mRNA expression was detected. The level of HAS-2 mRNA expression was 40-fold higher than that of HAS-3. Cultures of human articular chondrocytes and cartilage tissue slices were then transfected with HAS-2-specific antisense oligonucleotides. This treatment resulted in time-dependent inhibition of HAS-2 mRNA expression, as measured by quantitative RT-PCR, and a significant loss of cell-associated HA staining. Sense and reverse HAS-2 oligonucleotides showed no effect. The consequences of reduced HA levels (due to HAS-2 antisense inhibition) were a decrease in the diameter of the cell-associated matrix and a decreased capacity to retain newly synthesized proteoglycan. These results suggest that HA synthesized by HAS-2 plays a crucial role in matrix assembly and retention by human articular chondrocytes.

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