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J Biol Chem. 2004 Oct 1;279(40):42345-9. Epub 2004 Aug 5.

Synchronized chemoenzymatic synthesis of monodisperse hyaluronan polymers.

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  • 1Hyalose LLC, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73104, USA.


The length of the hyaluronan (HA) polysaccharide chain dictates its biological effects in many cellular and tissue systems. Long and short HA polymers often appear to have antagonistic or inverse effects. However, no source of very defined, uniform HA polymers with sizes greater than 10 kDa is currently available. We present a method to produce synthetic HA with very narrow size distributions in the range of approximately 16 kDa to approximately 2 MDa. The Pasteurella HA synthase enzyme, pmHAS, catalyzes the synthesis of HA polymer utilizing monosaccharides from UDP-sugar precursors. Recombinant pmHAS will also elongate exogenously supplied HA oligosaccharide acceptors in vitro in a nonprocessive fashion. As a result of bypassing the slow initiation step in vitro, the elongation process is synchronized in the presence of acceptor; thus all of polymer products are very similar in length. In contrast, without the use of an acceptor, the final polymer size range is difficult to predict and the products are more polydisperse. HA polymers of a desired size are constructed by controlling the reaction stoichiometry (i.e. molar ratio of precursors and acceptor molecules). The use of modified acceptors allows the synthesis of HA polymers containing tags (e.g. fluorescent, radioactive). In this scheme, each molecule has a single foreign moiety at the reducing terminus. Alternatively, the use of radioactive UDP-sugar precursors allows the synthesis of uniformly labeled native HA polymers. Overall, synthetic HA reagents with monodisperse size distributions and defined structures should assist in the elucidation of the numerous roles of HA in health and disease.

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