TMEM2: a missing link in hyaluronan catabolism identified?, 2019

Topics: TMEM2, hyaluronan, hyaluronidase, HA catabolism

Authors: Yu Yamaguchi, Hayato Yamamoto, Yuki Tobisawa, and Fumitoshi Irie


Hyaluronan (HA) is a glycosaminoglycan (GAG) composed of repeating disaccharide units of glucuronic acid and N-acetylglucosamine. HA is an extremely long, unbranched polymer, which often exceeds 106 Da and sometimes reaches 107 Da. A feature that epitomizes HA is its rapid turnover; one-third of the total body HA is turned over daily. The current model of HA catabolism postulates that high-molecular weight HA in the extracellular space is first cleaved into smaller fragments by a hyaluronidase(s) that resides at the cell surface, followed by internalization of fragments and their degradation into monosaccharides in lysosomes. Over the last decade, considerable research has shown that the HYAL family of hyaluronidases plays significant roles in HA catabolism. Nonetheless, the identity of a hyaluronidase responsible for the initial step of HA cleavage on the cell surface remains elusive, as biochemical and enzymological properties of HYAL proteins are not entirely consistent with those expected of cell surface hyaluronidases. Recent identification of transmembrane 2 (TMEM2) as a cell surface protein that possesses potent hyaluronidase activity suggests that it may be the “missing” cell surface hyaluronidase, and that novel models of HA catabolism should include this protein.

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