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Glycobiology. 2004 Apr;14(4):325-37. Epub 2004 Jan 12.

C-Mannosylation of MUC5AC and MUC5B Cys subdomains.

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Cystic Fibrosis/Pulmonary Research and Treatment Center, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


We expressed recombinant Cys subdomains in COS-7 cells to examine the role of this highly conserved protein domain in mucin biosynthesis. The entire Cys1 and Cys5 and Cys1 and Cys3 subdomains in MUC5AC and MUC5B, respectively, each with six carboxyl terminal histidine residues, were pulse-labeled with [(35)S]cysteine/methionine, and the labeled proteins were examined in the culture medium. Under nonreducing conditions, secreted Cys subdomains were monomers, indicating the absence of interchain disulfide bonds. Cross-linking studies suggested the domains are able to interact through very weak noncovalent interactions. Though the domains had apparent M(r) consistent with the absence of N- and O-glycans, they could be purified with mannose-specific lectins. Lectin binding was prevented by mutation of the first tryptophan residue in the putative C-mannosylation acceptor motif WXXW, indicating that C-mannosylation is responsible for lectin binding. As judged by pulse-chase experiments, C-mannosylation occurred very early during the domain biosynthesis, likely in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Mutation of the WXXW motif or expression of the unmutated domain in CHO-Lec35.1 cells, a C-mannosylation-defective cell line, resulted in reduced secretion of the corresponding Cys subdomains. Live cell imaging of green fluorescent protein fused to the Cys subdomains clearly revealed increased presence of Cys subdomains in the ER of CHO-Lec35.1 cells when compared to the same domains expressed in CHO-K1 cells. Considered together, these studies suggest that the Cys subdomains of MUC5AC and MUC5B are C-mannosylated in their respective WXXW motifs. C-mannosylation is likely required for proper folding of the Cys subdomains and/or for some aspect of ER export during mucin biosynthesis.

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