Mucin from xenografts of LS174T human colon cancer cells was treated with anhydrous HF for 1 h at 0 degree C to give a product (HFA) with over 80% of the glucosamine and hexose removed, but retaining some galactosamine, and for 3 h at room temperature to give a product (HFB) devoid of carbohydrate. Rabbit antibodies against HFA bound to HFA much more than to HFB, and bound to native mucin to an intermediate extent. Antibodies to HFB bound to HFB more than to HFA, and did not bind to native mucin. Both HFA and native mucin bound a number of lectins, but HFB did not. By SDS/polyacrylamide-gel electrophoresis and size-exclusion h.p.l.c., native mucin and HFA are of apparent molecular mass greater than 400 kDa, whereas HFB is heterogeneous and of low molecular mass. On Western blots, antibody to HFA detected both high-molecular-mass mucin and a 90 kDa protein in homogenates of LS174T cells. Antibody to HFB detected a major 70 kDa band as well as higher-molecular-mass species. In tissue sections of normal colon and colon cancers, antibody to HFA showed both cytoplasmic and extracellular staining, whereas antibody to HFB generally stained only cytoplasmic antigens. These results indicate that anti-HFB antibody is specific for apo-mucin, whereas anti-HFA antibody is specific for GalNAc-apo-mucin.

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