Pig small-intestinal mucus glycoprotein, of molecular weight 1.72 X 10(6), is cleaved by Pronase digestion into glycoprotein subunits of molecular weight 4.5 X 10(5). Of the protein component of the native glycoprotein 29% by weight was lost on Pronase digestion, with no loss of carbohydrate. The non-glycosylated region of the protein that was lost with proteolytic digestion had a broad spectrum of amino acid residues, in contrast with the glycosylated region of the protein, which was resistant to proteolysis and was rich in serine, threonine and proline residues. Reduction with 0.2M-mercaptoethanol dissociated the Pronase-digested glycoprotein subunits into smaller glycoprotein subunits of molecular weight 2.7 X 10(5). On reduction, the native glycoprotein was dissociated into subunits of molecular weight 2.4 X 10(5), a similar size to those obtained from reduction of the Pronase-digested glycoprotein. On reductive dissociation of the native glycoprotein, in addition to glycoprotein subunits, protein was also released principally as a component of 90000 molecular weight. This protein was separated quantitatively from the reduced glycoprotein in amounts compatible with one 90000-mol.wt. protein molecule per 1.72 X 10(6)-mol.wt. native glycoprotein molecule. No 90000-mol.wt. protein was released on reduction of the isolated Pronase-digested glycoprotein. Pig small-intestinal mucus glycoprotein is therefore a covalent polymer of glycoprotein subunits joined by disulphide bridges. This polymeric structure differs in important respects from that previously shown for gastric mucus, in particular with respect to the size and number of component subunits per native molecule.

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