Role of hyaluronan synthase 2 to promote CD44-dependent oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma progression

Steven J. Wang, Christine Earle, Gabriel Wong, Lilly Y.W. Bourguignon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: CD44 is a transmembrane receptor found on many different benign and malignant cells. Hyaluronan (HA), a major component of the extracellular matrix, is the primary ligand for CD44 receptors. In cancer cells, HA interaction with CD44 promotes multiple signaling pathways that influence tumor cell progression behaviors in a variety of solid tumors. Increasing evidence indicates that HA and CD44 signaling play an important role in oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma progression. HA is primarily synthesized by hyaluronan synthases, and the current study investigated the role of hyaluronan synthase 2 (HAS 2) in oral cavity carcinoma progression behaviors. Methods: Analysis of HAS 2 mRNA and protein expression, HA production, and HAS 2-mediated tumor cell proliferation and migration behaviors with and without HAS 2 suppression were carried out on 2 established oral cavity cancer cell lines. Immunohistochemical analysis of HAS 2 and CD44 expression in oral cavity carcinoma tumor specimens was performed. Results: HAS 2 was expressed in the 2 oral cancer cell lines, HSC-3 and SCC-4. Suppression of HAS 2 expression resulted in CD44-dependent decreased tumor cell migration, decreased tumor cell growth, and increased cisplatin sensitivity, suggesting the importance of tumor cell HA production to promote in vitro tumor progression behaviors in oral cancer cells. Increased HAS 2 expression in oral cavity carcinoma clinical specimens was associated with poor clinicopathologic characteristics and worse disease-free survival. Conclusion:s HAS 2 may be a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of oral cavity cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)511-520
Number of pages10
JournalHead and Neck
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • CD44
  • head and neck squamous cell carcinoma
  • hyaluronan
  • hyaluronan synthase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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