Characterization of a hyaluronan receptor on rat sinusoidal liver endothelial cells and its functional relationship to scavenger receptors



Hyaluronan is a widely distributed extracellular component of connective tissue with several mechanical and cell biological functions. The serum level of hyaluronan is elevated in rheumatic and liver diseases and in certain malignancies. The major route of hyaluronan clearance from the blood is via the liver, taken up predominantly by sinusoidal liver endothelial cells. We have purified a novel hyaluronan binding protein from liver that also has an affinity for the N-terminal propeptide of type I procollagen, a physiological scavenger receptor ligand. A polyclonal antibody raised against the protein was found to inhibit the binding and degradation of hyaluronan as well as two scavenger receptor ligands by cultured sinusoidal liver endothelial cells. Immunostaining of nonpermeabilized liver cells and liver sections showed that the antibody specifically stains the surface of sinusoidal liver endothelial cells. After pretreatment with monensin to block the recirculation of endocytic receptors, the immunostaining was specifically associated with early endosomes of these cells. Thus, this rat sinusoidal liver endothelial cell hyaluronan receptor shares functional properties with the scavenger receptor family, a group of proteins shown to play a key role in the uptake of atherogenic lipids and other waste products from the tissues.