Although gene expression studies have shown that human PLUNC (palate, lung and nasal epithelium clone) proteins are predominantly expressed in the upper airways, nose and mouth, and proteomic studies have indicated they are secreted into airway and nasal lining fluids and saliva, there is currently little information concerning the localization of human PLUNC proteins. Our studies have focused on the localization of three members of this protein family, namely SPLUNC1 (short PLUNC1), SPLUNC2 and LPLUNC1 (long PLUNC1). Western blotting has indicated that PLUNC proteins are highly glycosylated, whereas immunohistochemical analysis demonstrated distinct patterns of expression. For example, SPLUNC2 is expressed in serous cells of the major salivary glands and in minor mucosal glands, whereas SPLUNC1 is expressed in the mucous cells of these glands. LPLUNC1 is a product of a population of goblet cells in the airway epithelium and nasal passages and expressed in airway submucosal glands and minor glands of the oral and nasal cavities. SPLUNC1 is also found in the epithelium of the upper airways and nasal passages and in airway submucosal glands, but is not co-expressed with LPLUNC1. We suggest that this differential expression may be reflected in the function of individual PLUNC proteins.

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