Molecular cloning of a mammalian hyaluronidase reveals identity with hemopexin, a serum heme-binding protein

L. Zhu, T. J. Hope, J. Hall, A. Davies, M. Stern, U. Muller-Eberhard, R. Stern, T. G. Parslow*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Hyaluronan is the most abundant glycosaminoglycan of the extracellular matrix and is a critical substrate for cellular attachment and locomotion. Little is known about the class of enzymes, termed hyaluronidases, that are responsible for hyaluronan catabolism in mammals. We have determined a partial amino acid sequence from a purified preparation of porcine liver hyaluronidase and have used this information as the basis for cloning complementary DNA that encodes the corresponding protein. When expressed in a recombinant baculovirus system, the protein exhibited hyaluronidase activity in a substrate-gel assay. The deduced sequence of this mammalian hyaluronidase is that of a 459-amino-acid polypeptide bearing four potential N-glycosylation sites as well as a copy of a proposed hyaluronan binding motif. Remarkably, amino acid sequence comparisons and immunologic cross- reactivities strongly suggest that the cloned protein is identical to hemopexin, an abundant, heme-binding serum protein. Although hemopexin has not previously been reported to possess any enzymatic activity, it includes a conserved domain found in collagenases, stromelysins, and other enzymes that metabolize the extracellular matrix. We conclude that hemopexin is the predominant hyaluronidase expressed in mammalian liver.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32092-32097
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number51
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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