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      The magic glue hyaluronan and its eraser hyaluronidase: a biological overview.

      Life Sciences

      Animals, Antigens, CD44, metabolism, Drug Delivery Systems, Extracellular Matrix, Humans, Hyaluronic Acid, physiology, therapeutic use, Hyaluronoglucosaminidase, antagonists & inhibitors, Venoms, Virulence Factors

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          Abstract

          Hyaluronan (HA) is a multifunctional high molecular weight polysaccharide found throughout the animal kingdom, especially in the extracellular matrix (ECM) of soft connective tissues. HA is thought to participate in many biological processes, and its level is markedly elevated during embryogenesis, cell migration, wound healing, malignant transformation, and tissue turnover. The enzymes that degrade HA, hyaluronidases (HAases) are expressed both in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. These enzymes are known to be involved in physiological and pathological processes ranging from fertilization to aging. Hyaluronidase-mediated degradation of HA increases the permeability of connective tissues and decreases the viscosity of body fluids and is also involved in bacterial pathogenesis, the spread of toxins and venoms, acrosomal reaction/ovum fertilization, and cancer progression. Furthermore, these enzymes may promote direct contact between pathogens and the host cell surfaces. Depolymerization of HA also adversely affects the role of ECM and impairs its activity as a reservoir of growth factors, cytokines and various enzymes involved in signal transduction. Inhibition of HA degradation therefore may be crucial in reducing disease progression and spread of venom/toxins and bacterial pathogens. Hyaluronidase inhibitors are potent, ubiquitous regulating agents that are involved in maintaining the balance between the anabolism and catabolism of HA. Hyaluronidase inhibitors could also serve as contraceptives and anti-tumor agents and possibly have antibacterial and anti-venom/toxin activities. Additionally, these molecules can be used as pharmacological tools to study the physiological and pathophysiological role of HA and hyaluronidases.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          17408700
          10.1016/j.lfs.2007.02.037

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