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REVIEW: Hyaluronic Acid – an “Old” Molecule with “New” Functions: Biosynthesis and Depolymerization of Hyaluronic Acid in Bacteria and Vertebrate Tissues Including during Carcinogenesis

R. N. Tsepilov1* and A. V. Beloded2

1Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, 123098 Moscow, Russia; fax: +7 (499) 193-6183; E-mail: biorad@gamaleya.org

2Mendeleyev University of Chemical Technology of Russia, 125047 Moscow, Russia; fax: +7 (495) 495-2379; E-mail: biotech@muctr.ru

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received November 7, 2014; Revision received February 27, 2015
Hyaluronic acid is an evolutionarily ancient molecule commonly found in vertebrate tissues and capsules of some bacteria. Here we review modern data regarding structure, properties, and biological functions of hyaluronic acid in mammals and Streptococcus spp. bacteria. Various aspects of biogenesis and degradation of hyaluronic acid are discussed, biosynthesis and degradation metabolic pathways for glycosaminoglycan together with involved enzymes are described, and vertebrate and bacterial hyaluronan synthase genes are characterized. Special attention is given to the mechanisms underlying the biological action of hyaluronic acid as well as the interaction between polysaccharide and various proteins. In addition, all known signaling pathways involving hyaluronic acid are outlined. Impaired hyaluronic acid metabolism, changes in biopolymer molecular weight, hyaluronidase activity, and enzyme isoforms often accompany carcinogenesis. The interaction between cells and hyaluronic acid from extracellular matrix that may be important during malignant change is discussed. An expected role for high molecular weight hyaluronic acid in resistance of naked mole rat to oncologic diseases and the protective role of hyaluronic acid in bacteria are discussed.
KEY WORDS: hyaluronic acid, hyaluronan synthase, hyaluronidase, hyaladherins, naked mole rat, Streptococcus spp. bacteria

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297915090011