To establish the relation of glycosaminoglycan synthesis to cell proliferation, we investigated the synthesis of individual glycosaminoglycan species by intact cells and in a cell-free system, using normal and transformed human fibroblasts under differing culture conditions. Reducing serum concentration brought about a marked decline in the synthesis of hyaluronate (HA) as well as cell proliferation on both normal and transformed cells. Both HA synthesis and proliferation decreased with increasing cell densities markedly (in inverse proportion to cell density) in normal cells but gradually in transformed cells. This noticeable congruity of the changes in HA synthesis and proliferation indicates that the change in HA synthesis is related primarily to cell proliferation rather than to cell density or cellular transformation. Examination of HA synthesis in a cell-free system demonstrated that the activity of HA synthetase also fluctuated in conjunction with cell proliferation. Furthermore, growth-reduced cells (except crowded transformed cells) inhibited cell-free HA synthesis and this inhibition was induced coincidentally with a decrease in both HA synthetase activity and proliferation. These findings suggest that the change in HA synthesis is significant in the regulation of cell proliferation.

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