This gene encodes a protein which is similar in structure to hyaluronidases. Hyaluronidases intracellularly degrade hyaluronan, one of the major glycosaminoglycans of the extracellular matrix. Hyaluronan is thought to be involved in cell proliferation, migration and differentiation. Varying functions have been described for this protein. It has been described as a lysosomal hyaluronidase which is active at a pH below 4 and specifically hydrolyzes high molecular weight hyaluronan. It has also been described as a GPI-anchored cell surface protein which does not display hyaluronidase activity but does serve as a receptor for the oncogenic virus Jaagsiekte sheep retrovirus. The gene is one of several related genes in a region of chromosome 3p21.3 associated with tumor suppression. This gene encodes two alternatively spliced transcript variants which differ only in the 5' UTR.
An investigation published in 2017, attributed an additional function to the Hyaluronidase 2 (HYAL2) protein. The study found interactions between HYAL2 and proteins involved in the alternative splicing of CD44pre-mRNA, suggesting a broader regulatory role for the HYAL2 protein in cell biology.
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