Hyaluronan is a prerequisite for ductal branching morphogenesis

Peter Gakunga, Gregory Frost, Svetlana Shuster, Gerald Cunha, Bent Formby, Robert Stern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Hyaluronan, a macromolecular carbohydrate polymer of the extracellular matrix is prominent early in embryogenesis, coinciding with rapid tissue growth. CD44, the predominant receptor for hyaluronan on vertebrate cells, is a variably expressed transmembrane glycoprotein. Mouse anterior prostate glands obtained at various postnatal time points were examined for the expression of hyaluronan and CD44. Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction analysis was used to map the temporal regulation of specific CD44 variant isoforms. In each age group, hyaluronan was localized exclusively in the stromal matrix. Hyaluronan was greatly reduced in the later ages and was entirely absent around the developmentally quiescent proximal regions of the ducts. Early in prostate development, CD44 was prominent in the mesenchyme. However, in the later phases, CD44 expression became associated with membranes of epithelial cells. The role of hyaluronan-CD44 interactions in ductal branching morphogenesis was studied by serum-free organ culture of mouse anterior prostate. In the presence of optimal levels of testosterone, the organs underwent ductal branching morphogenesis. Treatment with either neutralizing anti-CD44 antibodies, hyaluronan hexasaccharides or the enzyme hyaluronidase inhibited androgen-stimulated ductal branching morphogenesis. These results are suggestive of the significant role played by hyaluronan-CD44 interactions in mediating androgen-induced prostatic growth and morphogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3987-3997
Number of pages11
Issue number20
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Branching morphogenesis
  • CD44
  • Epithelial-mesenchymal interaction
  • Hyaluronan
  • Mouse
  • Prostate development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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