Mucus glycoproteins (mucins) were obtained from human cervical and pig gastric mucus as well as from chronic-bronchitic sputum after low-shear extraction. The mucus gel was solubilized in guanidinium chloride supplemented with proteinase inhibitors, and the macromolecules were purified by using isopycnic density-gradient centrifugation. The macromolecules were spread in monolayers of benzyldimethylalkyl-ammonium chloride and studied with electron microscopy after staining with uranyl acetate and/or shadowing with platinum/carbon. The mucins appeared as flexible linear threads with lengths varying from approx. 200 nm to about 400 nm. No regularly branched or star-shaped structures were observed. The macromolecular architecture of cervical, respiratory and gastric mucins is thus similar.

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