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Annu Rev Physiol. 2008;70:405-29.

Regulation of airway mucin gene expression.

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1
Center for Comparative Respiratory Biology and Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care, Department of Internal Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.

Abstract

Mucins are important components that exert a variety of functions in cell-cell interaction, epidermal growth factor receptor signaling, and airways protection. In the conducting airways of the lungs, mucins are the major contributor to the viscoelastic property of mucous secretion, which is the major barrier to trapping inhaled microbial organism, particulates, and oxidative pollutants. The homeostasis of mucin production is an important feature in conducting airways for the maintenance of mucociliary function. Aberrant mucin secretion and accumulation in airway lumen are clinical hallmarks associated with various lung diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, emphysema, and lung cancer. Among 20 known mucin genes identified, 11 of them have been verified at either the mRNA and/or protein level in airways. The regulation of mucin genes is complicated, as are the mediators and signaling pathways. This review summarizes the current view on the mediators, the signaling pathways, and the transcriptional units that are involved in the regulation of airway mucin gene expression. In addition, we also point out essential features of epigenetic mechanisms for the regulation of these genes.

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