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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Sep 25;98(20):11604-8. Epub 2001 Sep 11.

The identification of secreted carbonic anhydrase VI as a constitutive glycoprotein of human and rat milk.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Oulu, FIN-90014 Oulu, Finland.


In addition to essential nutrients, human milk contains several classes of bioactive factors such as enzymes, hormones, and growth factors, many of which are implicated in infantile growth and development. Secretory carbonic anhydrase isoenzyme VI (CA VI) has been identified earlier as an essential component of mammalian saliva, and we demonstrate here by using biochemical and immunohistochemical techniques that it is also an elementary component of milk. The 42-kDa glycopolypeptide purified from human milk in CA inhibitor affinity chromatography shared 100% homology with salivary CA VI in the protein sequence analysis (40% coverage), and its digestion with PNGase F resulted in a polypeptide backbone similar in size to salivary CA VI. Quantification of CA VI in milk by using a time-resolved immunofluorometric assay revealed an approximately eight-times-higher concentration in human colostrum than in mature milk, the latter corresponding to the levels previously detected in human saliva. The high concentration in the colostrum, in particular its functional and structural stability in an acidic milieu, and its growth-supporting role in the taste buds suggest that milk CA VI is an essential factor in normal growth and development of the infant alimentary tract.

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