Mucins protect gastric epithelium by maintaining a favourable pH gradient and preventing autodigestion. The purpose of this study was to clone a mouse gastric mucin which would provide a foundation for analysis of mucin gene regulation. Mucin was purified from the glandular portion of gastric specimens and deglycosylated by HF solvolysis. Antibodies against native and deglycosylated mouse gastric mucin (MGM) were raised in chickens, Screening of a mouse stomach cDNA library with the anti-(deglycosylated MGM) antibody yielded partial clones containing a 48 bp tandem repeat and 768 bp of non-repetitive sequence, The 16-amino-acid tandem repeat has a consensus sequence of QTSSPNTGKTSTISTT with 25% serine and 38% threonine. The MGM tandem repeat sequence bears no similarity to previously identified mucins. The MGM non-repetitive region shares sequence similarity with human MUC5AC and, to a lesser extent, human MUC2 and rat intestinal mucin. Northern blot analysis reveals a polydisperse message beginning at 13.5 kb in mouse stomach with no expression in oesophagus, trachea, small intestine, large intestine, caecum, lung or kidney. Immunoreactivity of antibodies against deglycosylated MGM and against a synthetic MGM tandem repeat peptide was restricted to superficial mucous cells, antral glands and Brunner's glands in the pyloric-duodenal region. DNA analysis shows that MGM recognizes mouse and rat DNA but not hamster, rabbit or human DNA. The MGM gene maps to a site on mouse chromosome 7 homologous to the location of a human secretory mucin gene cluster on human chromosome 11p15. Due to sequence similarity and predominant expression in the stomach, the MGM gene may be considered a MUC5AC homologue and named Muc5ac.
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