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J Biol Chem. 2008 May 23;283(21):14335-44. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M703811200. Epub 2008 Mar 7.

Hyaluronan constitutively regulates activation of COX-2-mediated cell survival activity in intestinal epithelial and colon carcinoma cells.

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Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29425, USA.


Hyaluronan is a major component of the pericellular matrix surrounding tumor cells, including colon carcinomas. Elevated cycooxygenase-2 levels have been implicated in several malignant properties of colon cancer. We now show for the first time a strong link between hyaluronan-CD44 interaction and cyclooxygenase-2 in colon cancer cells. First, we have shown that increased expression of hyaluronan synthase-2 induces malignant cell properties, including increased proliferation, anchorage-independent growth, and epithelial-mesenchymal transition in HIEC6 cells. Second, constitutive hyaluronan-CD44 interaction stimulates a signaling pathway involving ErbB2, phosphoinositide 3-kinase/AKT, beta-catenin, and cyclooxygenase-2/prostaglandin E(2) in HCA7 colon carcinoma cells. Third, the HA/CD44-activated ErbB2 --> phosphoinositide 3-kinase/AKT --> beta-catenin pathway stimulates cell survival/cell proliferation through COX-2 induction in hyaluronan-overexpressing HIEC6 cells and in HCA7 cells. Fourth, perturbation of hyaluronan-CD44 interaction by hyaluronan oligomers or CD44-silencing RNA decreases cyclooxygenase-2 expression and enzyme activity, and inhibition of cyclooxygenase-2 decreases hyaluronan production suggesting the possibility of an amplifying positive feedback loop between hyaluronan and cyclooxygenase-2. We conclude that hyaluronan is an important endogenous regulator of colon cancer cell survival properties and that cyclooxygenase-2 is a major mediator of these hyaluronan-induced effects. Defining hyaluronan-dependent cyclooxygenase-2/prostaglandin E(2)-associated signaling pathways will provide a platform for developing novel therapeutic approaches for colon cancer.

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