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Cancer Sci. 2019 May 17. doi: 10.1111/cas.14070. [Epub ahead of print]

Hyaluronic acid synthase 2 promotes malignant phenotypes of colorectal cancer cells through transforming growth factor beta signaling.

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Laboratory of Radiation Exposure & Therapeutics, National Radiation Emergency Medical Center, Korea Institute of Radiological & Medical Science, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Life Science, Research Institute for Natural Sciences, Hanyang University, Seoul, Korea.
Lab. of Experimental Pathology, Departments of Pathology, Korea Institute of Radiological & Medical Science, Seoul, Korea.


Hyaluronic acid synthase 2 (HAS2) is suggested to play a critical role in malignancy and is abnormally expressed in many carcinomas. However, its role in colorectal cancer (CRC) malignancy and specific signaling mechanisms remain obscure. Here, we report that HAS2 was markedly increased in both CRC tissue and malignant CRC cell lines. Depletion of HAS2 in HCT116 and DLD1 cells, which express high levels of HAS2, critically increased sensitivity of radiation/oxaliplatin-mediated apoptotic cell death. Moreover, downregulation of HAS2 suppressed migration, invasion and metastasis in nude mice. Conversely, ectopic overexpression of HAS2 in SW480 cells, which express low levels of HAS2, showed the opposite effect. Notably, HAS2 loss- and gain-of-function experiments revealed that it regulates CRC malignancy through TGF-β expression and SMAD2/Snail downstream components. Collectively, our findings suggest that HAS2 contributes to malignant phenotypes of CRC, at least partly, through activation of the TGF-β signaling pathway, and shed light on the novel mechanisms behind the constitutive activation of HAS2 signaling in CRC, thereby highlighting its potential as a therapeutic target.


HAS2; TGF-beta; colorectal cancer therapy; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; malignant tumor

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