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Study of mucin turnover in the small intestine by in vivo labeling

Journal article
Authors Hannah Schneider
Thaher Pelaseyed
Frida Svensson
Malin E V Johansson
Published in Scientific Reports
Volume 8
ISSN 2045-2322
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Language en
Keywords mouse small-intestine, epithelial-cells, mucus layers, sea domain, membrane, muc17, barrier, expression, protection, infection
Subject categories Medical cell biology


Mucins are highly glycosylated proteins which protect the epithelium. In the small intestine, the goblet cell-secreted Muc2 mucin constitutes the main component of the loose mucus layer that traps luminal material. The transmembrane mucin Muc17 forms part of the carbohydrate-rich glycocalyx covering intestinal epithelial cells. Our study aimed at investigating the turnover of these mucins in the small intestine by using in vivo labeling of O-glycans with N-azidoacetylgalactosamine. Mice were injected intraperitoneally and sacrificed every hour up to 12 hours and at 24 hours. Samples were fixed with preservation of the mucus layer and stained for Muc2 and Muc17. Turnover of Muc2 was slower in goblet cells of the crypts compared to goblet cells along the villi. Muc17 showed stable expression over time at the plasma membrane on villi tips, in crypts and at crypt openings. In conclusion, we have identified different subtypes of goblet cells based on their rate of mucin biosynthesis and secretion. In order to protect the intestinal epithelium from chemical and bacterial hazards, fast and frequent renewal of the secreted mucus layer in the villi area is combined with massive secretion of stored Muc2 from goblet cells in the upper crypt.

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