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The normal trachea is cleaned by MUC5B mucin bundles from the submucosal glands coated with the MUC5AC mucin

Journal article
Authors Anna Ermund
Lauren N Meiss
Ana María Rodríguez-Piñeiro
A. Bahr
Harriet E. Nilsson
Sergio Trillo-Muyo
C. Ridley
D. J. Thornton
J. J. Wine
H. Hebert
N. Klymiuk
Gunnar C. Hansson
Published in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications - BBRC
Volume 492
Issue 3
Pages 331-337
ISSN 0006-291X
Publication year 2017
Published at Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Pages 331-337
Language en
Keywords Respiratory tract, Mucus, MUC5AC, Airway surface liquid, Lung, cystic-fibrosis, mucociliary transport, mucus, domain, airway, model, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Biophysics
Subject categories Cell Biology, Biophysics, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


To understand the mucociliary clearance system, mucins were visualized by light, confocal and electron microscopy, and mucus was stained by Alcian blue and tracked by video microscopy on tracheal explants of newborn piglets. We observed long linear mucus bundles that appeared at the submucosal gland openings and were transported cephalically. The mucus bundles were shown by mass spectrometry and immunostaining to have a core made of MUC5B mucin and were coated with MUC5AC mucin produced by surface goblet cells. The transport speed of the bundles was slower than the airway surface liquid flow. We suggest that the goblet cell MUC5AC mucin anchors the mucus bundles and thus controls their transport. Normal clearance of the respiratory tree of pigs and humans, both rich in submucosal glands, is performed by thick and long mucus bundles. (C) 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc.

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