, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 283-291

Heterogeneity in the protein cores of mucins isolated from human middle ear effusions: evidence for expression of different mucin gene products

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Abstract

High molecular weight mucins were isolated and purified from human middle ear effusions of children with Otitis Media with Effusion (OME) classified into three groups, (1) thick and (2) thin from anatomically normal children and (3) effusions from cleft palate patients. Amino acid analyses of the purified mucins from the three pools were similar but not identical with characteristic contents of serine threonine and proline (32%, 28%, and 38% for pools (1) (2) and (3) respectively). Proteinase resistant glycopeptide fragments corresponding to the tandem repeat domains of cloned mucin genes showed marked differences both between the three mucin pools and with the composition of the tandem repeat sequences of the cloned mucin genes expressed in the airways. Studies on the antigenic identity of middle ear mucins found an epitope likely to be present on MUC5AC, but only accounting for a maximum of 15% by weight and no reactivity was found with antibodies to MUC2 or MUC1. A polyclonal antibody raised to thick effusion mucins reacted strongly with human salivary mucin suggesting the presence of MUC5B epitopes. These studies suggest that more than one mucin gene product is secreted by the human middle ear mucosa and that there may be further mucin genes expressed by the middle ear that have yet to be cloned.