Send to

Choose Destination
Proc Am Thorac Soc. 2004;1(1):54-61.

From mucins to mucus: toward a more coherent understanding of this essential barrier.

Author information

Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell-Matrix Research, School of Biological Sciences, University of Manchester, 2.205 Stopford Building, Manchester M13 9PT, UK.


Mucus is essential for protection of the airways; however, in chronic airway disease mucus hypersecretion is an important factor in morbidity and mortality. The properties of the mucus gel are dictated in large part by the oligomeric mucins and, over the past decade, we have gained a better understanding of the molecular nature of these complex O-linked glycoproteins. We know now that MUC5AC mucins, as well as different glycoforms of the MUC5B mucin, are the predominant gel-forming glycoproteins in airways mucus. Furthermore, the amount, molecular size, and morphology of these glycoproteins can be altered in disease. From more recent data, it has become clear that oligomeric mucins alone do not constitute mucus, and other mucin and nonmucin components must be important contributors to mucus organization and hence airways defense. Therefore, the challenge over the coming decade will be to investigate how the oligomeric mucins are organized to yield "functional" mucus. Such studies will provide a clearer perception of airways mucosal protection and may highlight specific components as potential targets for therapeutic strategies for the treatment of hypersecretory disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center