Send to

Choose Destination
Cornea. 2003 Jan;22(1):41-5.

MUC7 expression in the human lacrimal gland and conjunctiva.

Author information

Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, KY 40292, USA.



Several mucins including MUC1, MUC2, MUC4, and MUC5AC have been identified at the ocular surface and in tears. The lacrimal gland, however, is not generally considered a source of ocular mucin. Because the lacrimal glands are similar to the salivary glands, we hypothesized that the lacrimal gland would express MUC7, a distinctive salivary mucin. We report the presence of MUC7 RNA and protein in normal human lacrimal glands as determined by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), in situ hybridization, and Western blot analysis.


RNA from lacrimal glands and conjunctivae was isolated and subjected to RT-PCR with primers specific for MUC7. The identity of the PCR products was confirmed by sequencing. In situ hybridization with PCR product-based riboprobes was used to locate MUC7 transcripts in the lacrimal gland. MUC7 protein was detected by Western blot analysis.


Of six normal human lacrimal glands from which relatively intact mRNA could be extracted, four expressed MUC7. Hybridization with an antisense riboprobe for MUC7 indicates the presence of MUC7 transcripts in the cytoplasm of acinar cells. Western blot analysis confirms expression of the protein in the lacrimal gland. The presence of MUC1, MUC4, and MUC5B was also demonstrated by RT-PCR in lacrimal gland tissue. MUC7 transcripts and protein were also detected in normal human conjunctivae.


The mucin profile of the lacrimal gland resembles that of the salivary gland. Both RNA and protein corresponding to MUC7 are present in the normal human lacrimal gland. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction indicates that other transcripts of MUC1, MUC4, and MUC5B are present as well. Ocular MUC7 is also produced by the conjunctival mucosa. The lacrimal gland, therefore, contributes not only to the aqueous component of tears but also, in concert with the conjunctiva, may contribute to the total pool of ocular surface mucins.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wolters Kluwer
Loading ...
Support Center