Although considered a pericellular matrix component, hyaluronan was recently localized in the cytoplasm and nucleus of proliferating cells, supporting earlier reports that hyaluronan was present in locations such as the nucleus, rough endoplasmic reticulum, and caveolae. This suggests that it can play roles both inside and outside the cell. Hyaluronan metabolism is coupled to mitosis and cell motility, but it is not clear if intracellular hyaluronan associates with cytoskeletal elements or plays a structural role. Here we report the distribution of intracellular hyaluronan, microtubules, and RHAMM in arterial smooth muscle cells in vitro. The general distribution of intracellular hyaluronan more closely resembled microtubule staining rather than actin filaments. Hyaluronan was abundant in the perinuclear microtubule-rich areas and was present in lysosomes, other vesicular structures, and the nucleolus. Partially fragmented fluorescein-hyaluronan was preferentially translocated to the perinuclear area compared with high-molecular-weight hyaluronan. In the mitotic spindle, hyaluronan colocalized with tubulin and with the hyaladherin RHAMM, a cell surface receptor and microtubule-associated protein that interacts with dynein and maintains spindle pole stability. Internalized fluorescein-hyaluronan was also seen at the spindle. Following telophase, an abundance of hyaluronan near the midbody microtubules at the cleavage furrow was also noted. In permeabilized cells, fluorescein-hyaluronan bound to RHAMM-associated microtubules. These findings suggest novel functions for hyaluronan in cellular physiology.
ASJC Scopus subject areas