Pathology of the Gastrointestinal Tract

2017 Edition
| Editors: Fátima Carneiro, Paula Chaves, Arzu Ensari


  • Raquel AlmeidaEmail author
Reference work entry


Mucins; MUC


Mucins (MUC) are high-molecular-weight glycoproteins constituted by a protein backbone (apomucin) and carbohydrate side chains. The vast majority of mucin glycosylation is constituted by O-glycans which are linked to serine (Ser) or threonine (Thr) residues on the protein backbone, and, in fact, more than 50% of the mucin molecular mass is composed of carbohydrates. The primary functions of mucins are to hydrate, protect, and lubricate the epithelial surfaces within the human body.


There are two main classes of mucins: membrane-bound mucins, contributing to the composition of the cellular glycocalyx, and secreted mucins, contributing to the composition of the extracellular matrix or the mucous barrier that covers all epithelial surfaces in the human body, except the skin. Mucins share a common structural feature which is a tandem repeatdomain comprising a variable number of tandem repeats (VNTRs) of identical or highly similar sequences rich...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References and Further Reading

  1. de Bolós, C., Garrido, M., & Real, F. X. (1995). MUC6 apomucin shows a distinct normal tissue distribution that correlates with Lewis antigen expression in the human stomach. Gastroenterology, 109, 723–734.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Carvalho, F., Seruca, R., David, L., Amorim, A., Seixas, M., Bennett, E., Clausen, H., & Sobrinho-Simões, M. (1997). MUC1 gene polymorphism and gastric cancer – An epidemiological study. Glycoconjugate Journal, 14, 107–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Kufe, D. W. (2009). Mucins in cancer: Function, prognosis and therapy. Nature Reviews. Cancer, 9, 874–885.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Reis, C. A., Osorio, H., Silva, L., Gomes, C., & David, L. (2010). Alterations in glycosylation as biomarkers for cancer detection. Journal of Clinical Pathology, 63, 322–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Teixeira, A., David, L., Reis, C. A., Costa, J., & Sobrinho-Simões, M. (2002). Expression of mucins (MUC1, MUC2, MUC5AC, and MUC6) and type 1 Lewis antigens in cases with and without Helicobacter pylori colonization in metaplastic glands of the human stomach. The Journal of Pathology, 197, 37–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Molecular Pathology and Immunology of the University of Porto (IPATIMUP)PortoPortugal
  2. 2.Faculty of Medicine, University of PortoPortoPortugal