22 October 2015
Hyaluronidases are enzymes that mainly degrade hyaluronan, the major glycosaminoglycan of the interstitial matrix. They are involved in several pathological and physiological activities including fertilization, wound healing, embryogenesis, angiogenesis, diffusion of toxins and drugs, metastasis, pneumonia, sepsis, bacteremia, meningitis, inflammation and allergy, among others. Hyaluronidases are widely distributed in nature and the enzymes from mammalian spermatozoa, lysosomes and animal venoms belong to the subclass EC 22.214.171.124. To date, only five three-dimensional structures for arthropod venom hyaluronidases ( Apis mellifera and Vespula vulgaris) were determined. Additionally, there are four molecular models for hyaluronidases from Mesobuthus martensii, Polybia paulista and Tityus serrulatus venoms. These enzymes are employed as adjuvants to increase the absorption and dispersion of other drugs and have been used in various off-label clinical conditions to reduce tissue edema. Moreover, a PEGylated form of a recombinant human hyaluronidase is currently under clinical trials for the treatment of metastatic pancreatic cancer. This review focuses on the arthropod venom hyaluronidases and provides an overview of their biochemical properties, role in the envenoming, structure/activity relationship, and potential medical and biotechnological applications.