Autophagic degradation of HAS2 in endothelial cells: A novel mechanism to regulate angiogenesis

Carolyn G. Chen, Maria A. Gubbiotti, Aastha Kapoor, Xiaorui Han, Yanglei Yu, Robert J. Linhardt, Renato V. Iozzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Hyaluronan plays a key role in regulating inflammation and tumor angiogenesis. Of the three transmembrane hyaluronan synthases, HAS2 is the main pro-angiogenic enzyme responsible for excessive hyaluronan production. We discovered that HAS2 was degraded in vascular endothelial cells via autophagy evoked by nutrient deprivation, mTOR inhibition, or pro-autophagic proteoglycan fragments endorepellin and endostatin. Using live-cell and super-resolution confocal microscopy, we found that protracted autophagy evoked a dynamic interaction between HAS2 and ATG9A, a key transmembrane autophagic protein. This regulatory axis of HAS2 degradation occurred in various cell types and species and in vivo upon nutrient deprivation. Inhibiting in vivo autophagic flux via chloroquine showed increased levels of HAS2 in the heart and aorta. Functionally, autophagic induction via endorepellin or mTOR inhibition markedly suppressed extracellular hyaluronan production in vascular endothelial cells and inhibited ex vivo angiogenic sprouting. Thus, we propose autophagy as a novel catabolic mechanism regulating hyaluronan production in endothelial cells and demonstrate a new link between autophagy and angiogenesis that could lead to potential therapeutic modalities for angiogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalMatrix Biology
StatePublished - Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • ATG9A
  • Endorepellin
  • Extracellular matrix
  • Hyaluronan
  • mTOR


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