Mammalian Type Hyaluronidase

Mammalian-type hyaluronidases have been classified in EC 3.2.1.35 (5,6). This group consists of endo-b-N-acetyl-hexosaminidases, which cleave the internal

(31,4 glycosidic linkage between N-acetylglucosamine and glucuronate of HA producing oligomers (mainly hexasaccharides) as end products. Most of these enzymes also cleave 4-S and 6-S-chondroitin sulphate and catalyse transglyco-sylation (7,8).

In mammals, HA-degrading enzymes have been found in higher quantities in testes, liver lysosomes and serum. They are involved in controlling HA levels and are thus implicated in various diseases related to defects of HA metabolism, such as arthritis or tumor metastasis (9). At least six genes potentially coding for hyaluronidases are present in the human genome (10). These six genes define a novel paralogy group in the human genome. Three genes, HYAL1, 2, 3, are clustered on chromosome 3p21.3. The other three, HYAL4, PHYAL1—a pseudogene—and PH-20/SPAM1, are found on chromosome 7q31.3. It is noteworthy that each of these chromosomal regions has been found to be deleted in certain tumors (11-13). The tissue expression profile of the human enzymes is listed in Table 1 (14).

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