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Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2011 Jun;44(6):755-60. doi: 10.1165/rcmb.2010-0020OC.

Mucin production during prenatal and postnatal murine lung development.

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Department of Pulmonary Medicine, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


Mucus is a protective gel that lines respiratory tract surfaces. To identify potential roles for secreted gel--forming mucins in lung development, we isolated murine lungs on embryonic days (E) 12.5-18.5, and postnatal days (PN) days 5, 14, and 28. We measured the mucin gene expression by quantitative RT-PCR, and localization by histochemical and immunohistochemical labeling. Alcian blue/periodic acid--Schiff--positive cells are present from E15.5 through PN28. Muc5b transcripts were abundant at all time points from E14.5 to PN28. By contrast, transcript levels of Muc5ac and Muc2 were approximately 300 and 85,000 times lower, respectively. These data are supported by immunohistochemical studies demonstrating the production and localization of Muc5ac and Muc5b protein. This study indicates that mucin production is prominent in developing murine lungs and that Muc5b is an early, abundant, and persistent marker of bronchial airway secretory cells, thereby implicating it as an intrinsic component of homeostatic mucosal defense in the lungs.

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