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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1998 Sep 29;250(3):757-61.

MUC4 is a major component of salivary mucin MG1 secreted by the human submandibular gland.

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Department of Biochemistry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, 02118, USA.


High molecular weight salivary mucin (MG1) is an important component of saliva, contributing to the lubricative and tissue-protective functions of this biological fluid. We have shown previously that the human mucin gene MUC5B is expressed at high levels in sublingual gland and is a significant constituent of MG1. Since many epithelia express multiple mucin genes, it seemed likely that MG1 in salivary secretions is also a heterogeneous mixture of mucin gene products. The aim of this study was to determine whether MUC4, a mucin shown in Northern blotting experiments to be expressed in salivary glands, was a significant protein component of MG1 in salivary secretions. Two cDNA clones containing MUC4 tandem repeats were isolated from a human submandibular gland cDNA library. In addition, recombinant MUC4 produced in a bacterial expression system cross-reacted with an antibody directed against deglycosylated MG1. This shows conclusively that human salivary mucin MG1 contains both MUC5B and MUC4 gene products suggesting that each mucin may perform distinct functions in the oral cavity.

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