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Cancer Res. 1999 Mar 1;59(5):1141-5.

Overproduction of hyaluronan by expression of the hyaluronan synthase Has2 enhances anchorage-independent growth and tumorigenicity.

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The Burnham Institute, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


Hyaluronan (HA) has long been implicated in malignant transformation and tumor progression. However, due to the lack of molecular tools to directly manipulate production of HA, which does not require a core protein for its synthesis, our understanding of the role of HA in tumor cells has been largely circumstantial. In this study, we genetically manipulated the production of HA by transfection of a mammalian HA synthase Has2 into human HT1080 cells and examined the malignant phenotype of transfected cells. We found that increased production of HA promotes anchorage-independent growth and tumorigenicity of the cells. Has2-transfected cells formed greater numbers of colonies in semisolid medium. Tumors in nude mice derived from Has2-transfected cells grew more rapidly and were 2-4 times larger than those derived from control cells at termination of experiments. Histological and biochemical analyses of tumors revealed no significant differences in cell density and tissue structures between them, indicating that the larger size of the tumors was due to enhanced cell proliferation, not to increased accumulation of tumor stroma or increased angiogenesis. These results demonstrate that HA production by tumor cells per se promotes proliferation of these cells in tissues and provides direct evidence for the role of HA in tumorigenicity.

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