Hyaluronan Synthesis Is Inhibited by Adenosine Monophosphate-activated Protein Kinase through the Regulation of HAS2 Activity in Human Aortic Smooth Muscle Cells

Vigetti D, Clerici M, Deleonibus S, Karousou E, Viola M, Moretto P, Heldin P, Hascall VC, De Luca G, Passi A
Source: J Biol Chem
Publication Date: (2011)
Issue: 286(10): 7917-24
Research Area:
Basic Research
Cells used in publication:
SMC, aortic (AoSMC), human
Species: human
Tissue Origin: aortic
Hyaluronan (HA) is an extracellular matrix glycosaminoglycan (GAG) involved in cell motility, proliferation, tissue remodeling, development, differentiation, inflammation, tumor progression, and invasion and controls vessel thickening in cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, the control of HA synthesis could permit the fine-tuning of cell behavior, but the mechanisms that regulate HA synthesis are largely unknown. Recent studies suggest that the availability of the nucleotide-sugar precursors has a critical role. Because the formation of UDP-sugars is a highly energetically demanding process, we have analyzed whether the energy status of the cell could control GAG production. AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is the main ATP/AMP sensor of mammalian cells, and we mimicked an energy stress by treating human aortic smooth muscle cells (AoSMCs) with the AMPK activators 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide-1-ß-D-ribofuranoside and metformin. Under these conditions, HA synthesis, but not that of the other GAGs, was greatly reduced. We confirmed the inhibitory effect of AMPK using a specific inhibitor and knock-out cell lines. We found that AMPK phosphorylated Thr-110 of human HAS2, which inhibits its enzymatic activity. In contrast, the other two HAS isoenzymes (HAS1 and HAS3) were not modified by the kinase. The reduction of HA decreased the ability of AoSMCs to proliferate, migrate, and recruit immune cells, thereby reducing the pro-atherosclerotic AoSMC phenotype. Interestingly, such effects were not recovered by treatment with exogenous HA, suggesting that AMPK can block the pro-atherosclerotic signals driven by HA by interaction with its receptors.