Glycoconjugate Journal

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 101–109

Isoenzyme-specific differences in the degradation of hyaluronic acid by mammalian-type hyaluronidases

  • Edith S. A. Hofinger
  • Julia Hoechstetter
  • Martin Oettl
  • Günther Bernhardt
  • Armin Buschauer

DOI: 10.1007/s10719-007-9058-8

Cite this article as:
Hofinger, E.S.A., Hoechstetter, J., Oettl, M. et al. Glycoconj J (2008) 25: 101. doi:10.1007/s10719-007-9058-8


Bovine testicular hyaluronidase (BTH) has been used as a spreading factor for many years and was primarily characterized by its enzymatic activity. As recombinant human hyaluronidases are now available the bovine preparations can be replaced by the human enzymes. However, data on the pH-dependent activity of hyaluronidases reported in literature are inconsistent in part or even contradictory. Detection of the pH-dependent activity of PH-20 type hyaluronidases, i.e. recombinant human PH-20 (rhPH-20) and BTH, showed a shift of the pH optimum from acidic pH values in a colorimetric activity assay to higher pH values in a turbidimetric activity assay. Contrarily, recombinant human Hyal-1 (rhHyal-1) and bee venom hyaluronidase (BVH) exhibited nearly identical pH profiles in both commonly used types of activity assays. Analysis of the hyaluronic acid (HA) degradation products by capillary zone electrophoresis showed that hyaluronan was catabolized by rhHyal-1 continuously into HA oligosaccharides. BTH and, to a less extent, rhPH-20 exhibited a different mode of action: at acidic pH (pH 4.5) HA was degraded as described for rhHyal-1, while at elevated pH (pH 5.5) small oligosaccharides were produced in addition to HA fragments of medium molecular weight, thus explaining the pH-dependent discrepancies in the activity assays. Our results suggest a sub-classification of mammalian-type hyaluronidases into a PH-20/BTH and a Hyal-1/BVH subtype. As the biological effects of HA fragments are reported to depend on the size of the molecules it can be speculated that different pH values at the site of hyaluronan degradation may result in different biological responses.


Bovine testicular hyaluronidaseHuman Hyal-1Human PH-20Bee venom hyaluronidaseCapillary zone electrophoresis



bovine serum albumin


bovine testicular hyaluronidase


bee venom hyaluronidase


capillary zone electrophoresis




glucuronic acid


hyaluronic acid


hyaluronic acid disaccharide unit


recombinant human Hyal-1


recombinant human PH-20


size exclusion chromatography

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edith S. A. Hofinger
    • 1
  • Julia Hoechstetter
    • 1
  • Martin Oettl
    • 1
  • Günther Bernhardt
    • 1
  • Armin Buschauer
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Pharmacy, Faculty of Chemistry and PharmacyUniversity of RegensburgRegensburgGermany