Polyclonal antibodies raised to deglycosylated pig gastric mucin were used to screen a cDNA library constructed with pig stomach mucosal mRNA. Immunocytochemistry indicated that the antibody recognizes intracellular and secreted mucin in surface mucous cells of pig gastric epithelium. A total of 70 clones producing proteins immunoreactive to this antibody were identified, two of which (PGM-2A,9B) were fully sequenced from both ends. Clone PGM-9B hybridized to a polydisperse mRNA (3-9 kb) from pig stomach, but not liver, intestine or spleen, nor to mRNA from human, mouse, rabbit or rat stomach. Sequence analysis indicated that PGM-9B encodes 33 tandem repeats of a 16-amino-acid consensus sequence rich in serine (46%) and threonine (17%). Using the restriction enzyme MwoI, which has a single target site in the repeat, it was demonstrated that PGM-9B consists entirely of this tandem repeat. Southern-blot analysis indicated that the repeat region is contained in a 20 kb HindIII-EcoRI fragment, and BamHI digestion suggested that most of the repeats are contained in a 10 kb fragment. In situ hybridization with an antisense probe to PGM-9B showed an intense signal in the entire gastric gland. Clone PGM-2A also contains the same repeat sequence as 9B, but, in addition, has a 64-amino-acid-long non-repeat region at its 5′ end. Interestingly the non-repeat region of PGM-2A has five cysteine residues, the arrangement of which is identical with that reported for human intestinal mucin gene MUC2.
The existence of a discrete ‘link’ peptide in epithelial mucins has been debated for many years. There is evidence that at least some mucins contain a specific ‘link’ peptide (or glycopeptide) that enhances mucin polymerization by forming disulphide bridges to large mucin glycoprotein subunits. A major difficulty has been to know whether the reported differences in putative ‘link’ components represent artifacts generated by inter-laboratory differences in technical procedures used in mucin purification. The present paper outlines the results of a collaborative study involving five laboratories and 53 samples of purified gastrointestinal mucins (including salivary, gastric, small-intestinal and colonic mucins) prepared by five techniques from four different animal species. An early step in mucin purification in all cases was the addition of proteinase inhibitors. Representative mucins were analysed for their composition, electrophoretic mobility in SDS/polyacrylamide-gel electrophoresis before and after disulphide-bond reduction, and for their reactivity with monospecific antibodies developed against the 118 kDa putative ‘link’ glycopeptide isolated from either rat or human small-intestinal mucins. Our results indicate that, despite differences in laboratory techniques, preparative procedures, organs and species, each of the purified mucins contained a ‘link’ component that was released by disulphide-bond reduction and produced a band on SDS/polyacrylamide-gel electrophoresis at a position of approx. 118 kDa. After electroelution and analyses, the 118 kDa bands from the different mucins were found to have similar amino acid profiles and to contain carbohydrate. It would appear therefore that a ‘link’ glycopeptide of molecular mass approx. 118 kDa is common to all of the gastrointestinal mucins studied.
Rat intestinal mucin is polymerized by a putative ‘link’ component of Mr 118,000 that can be released from the native mucin by thiol reduction [Fahim, Forstner & Forstner (1983) Biochem. J. 209, 117-124]. To confirm that this component is an integral part of the mucin and independent of the mucin purification technique, rat mucin was purified in the present study by three independent techniques. In all cases, the 118,000-Mr component was released after reduction. The 118 kDa band was electroeluted from SDS/polyacrylamide gels and its composition shown to resemble closely that of the link component of human intestinal mucin [Mantle, Forstner & Forstner (1984) Biochem. J. 224, 345-354]. Carbohydrates were present, including significant (10 mol/100 mol) amounts of mannose, suggesting the presence of N-linked oligosaccharides. Monospecific antibodies prepared against the rat 118,000-Mr component established its tissue localization in intestinal goblet cells. Mucins subjected to SDS/polyacrylamide-gel electrophoresis and Western blots using the same antibody, established that the link components of rat and human intestinal mucin are similar antigenically. Brief exposure (10 min) of native rat mucin to trypsin or Pronase (enzyme/mucin protein, 1:500, w/w) also released a 118,000-Mr component that reacted with the monospecific antibody. Thus the 118,000-Mr component is an integral part of the mucin and, although linked to large glycopeptides by disulphide bonds, this component also has proteinase-sensitive peptide bonds, presumably at terminal locations such that brief treatment with proteinases releases the molecule in a reasonably intact form. Under physiological conditions, therefore, one might expect that, after mucin is secreted into the intestinal lumen, luminal proteinases would rapidly remove the link component, thereby causing the mucin to depolymerize.