BACKGROUND--It has been shown that MUC2 is the prominent mucin synthesised in healthy colon. AIM--To identify the predominant mucins in ulcerative colitis (UC) and to study their biosynthesis. METHODS AND RESULTS--Mucin was purified from UC resection specimens. This mucin on sodium dodecylsulphate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) presented as one, high molecular weight, periodic acid/Schiff's reagent (PAS) stainable band. Amino acid composition showed a close resemblance to that of MUC2. Immunoprecipitation with a specific anti-MUC2 antiserum confirmed that this mucin was MUC2. In addition, on the mRNA level MUC2 was also the most prominent mucin expressed in UC. Polyclonal antiserum was elicited, mainly recognising mucin peptide epitopes of UC and normal colonic mucin. Biosynthetic studies with [35S]amino acids showed that the MUC2-precursor in UC displayed a molecular mass on SDS-PAGE of approximately 600 kDa. This precursor was converted into a mature MUC2 with anomalous mobility on SDS-PAGE of 550 kDa and was secreted. Only this 550 kDa band could be labelled with [35S]sulphate and stained by PAS. CONCLUSIONS--This study shows that in parallel with the mucin expression in healthy controls, MUC2 is the major mucin expressed in UC. Qualitatively, MUC2 biosynthesis seems unchanged in UC.
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