Pig gastric mucins were isolated from the surface epithelium of the cardiac region, corpus and antrum using density-gradient centrifugation after extraction in 6 M guanidinium chloride. In CsCl/0.5 M guanidinium chloride, mucins solubilized from the cardiac region appeared as a broad unimodal band at 1.52 g/ml whereas those from the corpus and antrum occurred as high- and low-density populations at 1.50 and 1.45 g/ml respectively. High-iron diamine reacted more strongly with the cardiac mucins and the high-density populations from corpus and antrum than with the two low-density ones. In keeping with this, approx. 60% of the oligosaccharides from the former mucins and 20% from the latter contained sulphate. All surface epithelial cells of the cardiac region stained with high-iron diamine, whereas in the corpus only the epithelium in the bottom of the pits reacted, suggesting that the high-density population from this region originates from these cells. Mucins from all regions were composed of subunits, each containing highly glycosylated domains. The mucins from the cardiac region were larger than those from the corpus and antrum, and reduced subunits as well as high-molecular-mass glycopeptides from the cardiac mucins were larger than the corresponding fragments from the other regions. Ion-exchange HPLC showed that reduced subunits from the cardiac mucins and the high-density populations from the corpus and antrum were more ‘acidic’ than reduced subunits from the two low-density ones. All mucins contained a ‘neutral’ fraction, in particular those from the antrum. Pig gastric mucus thus contains a number of distinctly different mucin populations varying in buoyant density, size, ‘acidity’, glycosylation, sulphation and tissue origin.

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