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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Mar 15;108 Suppl 1:4659-65. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1006451107. Epub 2010 Jun 25.

The two mucus layers of colon are organized by the MUC2 mucin, whereas the outer layer is a legislator of host-microbial interactions.

Author information

1
Department of Medical Biochemistry, University of Gothenburg, 405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden.

Abstract

The normal intestinal microbiota inhabits the colon mucus without triggering an inflammatory response. The reason for this and how the intestinal mucus of the colon is organized have begun to be unraveled. The mucus is organized in two layers: an inner, stratified mucus layer that is firmly adherent to the epithelial cells and approximately 50 μm thick; and an outer, nonattached layer that is usually approximately 100 μm thick as measured in mouse. These mucus layers are organized around the highly glycosylated MUC2 mucin, forming a large, net-like polymer that is secreted by the goblet cells. The inner mucus layer is dense and does not allow bacteria to penetrate, thus keeping the epithelial cell surface free from bacteria. The inner mucus layer is converted into the outer layer, which is the habitat of the commensal flora. The outer mucus layer has an expanded volume due to proteolytic activities provided by the host but probably also caused by commensal bacterial proteases and glycosidases. The numerous O-glycans on the MUC2 mucin not only serve as nutrients for the bacteria but also as attachment sites and, as such, probably contribute to the selection of the species-specific colon flora. This observation that normal human individuals carry a uniform MUC2 mucin glycan array in colon may indicate such a specific selection.

PMID:
20615996
PMCID:
PMC3063600
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1006451107
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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