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Intracellular Localization Of Hyaluronan In Proliferating Cells

S. Evanko, T. Wight
Published 1999 · Medicine, Biology

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Hyaluronan is a high molecular weight glycosaminoglycan found in the extracellular matrix of many tissues, where it is believed to promote cell migration and proliferation. It was recently shown that hyaluronan-dependent pericellular matrix formation is a rapid process that occurs as cells detach during mitosis. Growing evidence for intracellular hyaluronan in tissues in vivo, together with evidence of intracellular hyaluronan binding molecules, prompted us to examine hyaluronan distribution and uptake as well as hyaluronan binding sites in cells and their relationship to cell proliferation in vitro, using a biotinylated hyaluronan binding protein and fluorescein-labeled hyaluronan. In permeabilized smooth muscle cells and fibroblasts, hyaluronan staining was seen in the cytoplasm in a diffuse, network-like pattern and in vesicles. Nuclear hyaluronan staining was observed and confirmed by confocal microscopy and was often associated with nucleoli and nuclear clefts. After serum stimulation of 3T3 cells, there was a dramatic increase in cytoplasmic hyaluronan staining, especially during late prophase/early prometaphase of mitosis. In contrast, unstimulated cells were negative. There was a pronounced alteration in the amount and distribution of hyaluronan binding sites, from a mostly nucleolar distribution in unstimulated cells to one throughout the cytoplasm and nucleus after stimulation. Exogenous fluorescein-labeled hyaluronan was taken up avidly into vesicles in growing cells but was localized distinctly compared to endogenous hyaluronan, suggesting that hyaluronan in cells may be derived from an intracellular source. These data indicate that intracellular hyaluronan may be involved in nucleolar function, chromosomal rearrangement, or other events in proliferating cells.
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