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J Cell Sci. 2002 Sep 15;115(Pt 18):3633-43.

Changed lamellipodial extension, adhesion plaques and migration in epidermal keratinocytes containing constitutively expressed sense and antisense hyaluronan synthase 2 (Has2) genes.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy, University of Kuopio, 70211 Kuopio, Finland.


Hyaluronan is a major component of the epidermal extracellular matrix, is actively synthesized by keratinocytes and shows fast matrix turnover in the stratified epithelium. We probed the importance of hyaluronan synthesis in keratinocytes by establishing cell lines carrying the exogenous hyaluronan synthase 2 (Has2) gene in sense and antisense orientations to increase and decrease their hyaluronan synthesis, respectively. Compared with cell lines transfected with the vector only, most clones containing the Has2 sense gene migrated faster in an in vitro wounding assay, whereas Has2 antisense cells migrated more slowly. Has2 antisense clones showed delayed entry into the S phase of cell cycle following plating, smaller lamellipodia and less spreading on the substratum. The decrease of hyaluronan on the undersurface of Has2 antisense cells was associated with an increased area of adhesion plaques containing vinculin. Exogenous hyaluronan added to the keratinocyte cultures had a minor stimulatory effect on migration after wounding but did not restore the reduced migratory ability of Has2 antisense cells. Hyaluronan decasaccharides that displace receptor bound hyaluronan in keratinocytes, and Streptomyces hyaluronidase sufficient to remove most cell surface hyaluronan had little effect on cell migration. The results suggest that the dynamic synthesis of hyaluronan directed by Has2, rather than the abundance of pericellular hyaluronan, controls keratinocyte migration, a cell function vital for the repair of squamous epithelia following wounding.

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