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J Biol Chem. 2011 Sep 23;286(38):33632-40. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.265637. Epub 2011 Jul 27.

Cellular content of UDP-N-acetylhexosamines controls hyaluronan synthase 2 expression and correlates with O-linked N-acetylglucosamine modification of transcription factors YY1 and SP1.

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  • 1Institute of Biomedicine, University of Eastern Finland, FIN-70211 Kuopio, Finland.


Hyaluronan, a high molecular mass polysaccharide on the vertebrate cell surface and extracellular matrix, is produced at the plasma membrane by hyaluronan synthases using UDP-GlcNAc and UDP-GlcUA as substrates. The availability of these UDP-sugar substrates can limit the synthesis rate of hyaluronan. In this study, we show that the cellular level of UDP-HexNAc also controls hyaluronan synthesis by modulating the expression of HAS2 (hyaluronan synthase 2). Increasing UDP-HexNAc in HaCaT keratinocytes by adding glucosamine down-regulated HAS2 gene expression, whereas a decrease in UDP-HexNAc, realized by mannose treatment or siRNA for GFAT1 (glutamine:fructose-6-phosphate amidotransferase 1), enhanced expression of the gene. Tracing the UDP-HexNAc-initiated signal to the HAS2 promoter revealed no change in the binding of STAT3, NF-κB, and cAMP response element-binding protein, shown previously to mediate growth factor and cytokine signals on HAS2 expression. Instead, altered binding of SP1 and YY1 to the promoter correlated with cellular UDP-HexNAc content and inhibition of HAS2 expression. siRNA silencing of YY1 and SP1 confirmed their inhibitory effects on HAS2 expression. Reduced and increased levels of O-GlcNAc-modified SP1 and YY1 proteins were associated with stimulation or inhibition of HAS2 expression, respectively. Our data are consistent with the hypothesis that, by regulating the level of protein O-GlcNAc modifications, cellular UDP-HexNAc content controls HAS2 transcription and decreases the effects on hyaluronan synthesis that would result from cellular fluctuations of this substrate.

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