A Rheological Study of the Association and Dynamics of MUC5AC Gels.
ABSTRACT: The details of how a mucus hydrogel forms from its primary structural component, mucin polymers, remain incompletely resolved. To explore this, we use a combination of macrorheology and single-particle tracking to investigate the bulk and microscopic mechanical properties of reconstituted MUC5AC mucin gels. We find that analyses of thermal fluctuations on the length scale of the micrometer-sized particles are not predictive of the linear viscoelastic response of the mucin gels, and that taken together, the results from both techniques help to provide complementary insight into the structure of the network. In particular, we show that macroscopic stiffening of MUC5AC gels can be brought about in different ways by targeting specific associations within the network using environmental triggers such as modifications to the pH, surfactant, and salt concentration. Our work may be important for understanding how environmental factors, including pathogens and therapeutic agents, alter the mechanical properties of fully constituted mucus.
Project description:MUC5AC, a major gel-forming mucin expressed in the lungs, is secreted at increased rates in response to infectious agents, implying that mucins exert a protective role against inhaled pathogens. However, epidemiological and pathological studies suggest that excessive mucin secretion causes airways obstruction and inflammation. To determine whether increased MUC5AC secretion alone produces airway obstruction and/or inflammation, we generated a mouse model overexpressing Muc5ac mRNA ~20-fold in the lungs, using the rCCSP promoter. The Muc5ac cDNA was cloned from mouse lungs and tagged internally with GFP. Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) analysis demonstrated an approximate 18-fold increase in Muc5ac protein, which formed high-molecular-weight polymers. Histopathological studies and cell counts revealed no airway mucus obstruction or inflammation in the lungs of Muc5ac-transgenic (Muc5ac-Tg) mice. Mucus clearance was preserved, implying that the excess Muc5ac secretion produced an "expanded" rather than more concentrated mucus layer, a prediction confirmed by electron microscopy. To test whether the larger mucus barrier conferred increased protection against pathogens, Muc5ac-Tg animals were challenged with PR8/H1N1 influenza viruses and showed significant decreases in infection and neutrophilic responses. Plaque assay experiments demonstrated that Muc5ac-Tg BALF and purified Muc5ac reduced infection, likely via binding to ?2,3-linked sialic acids, consistent with influenza protection in vivo. In conclusion, the normal mucus transport and absence of a pulmonary phenotype in Muc5ac-Tg mice suggests that mucin hypersecretion alone is not sufficient to trigger luminal mucus plugging or airways inflammation/goblet cell hyperplasia. In contrast, increased Muc5ac secretion appears to exhibit a protective role against influenza infection.
Project description:The gastrointestinal tract is lined by a thick and complex layer of mucus that protects the mucosal epithelium from biochemical and mechanical aggressions. This mucus barrier confers protection against pathogens but also serves as a binding site that supports a sheltered niche of microbial adherence. The carcinogenic bacteria Helicobacter pylori colonize the stomach through binding to host glycans present in the glycocalyx of epithelial cells and extracellular mucus. The secreted MUC5AC mucin is the main component of the gastric mucus layer, and BabA-mediated binding of H. pylori to MUC5AC confers increased risk for overt disease. In this study we unraveled the O-glycosylation profile of Muc5ac from glycoengineered mice models lacking the FUT2 enzyme and therefore mimicking a non-secretor human phenotype. Our results demonstrated that the FUT2 determines the O-glycosylation pattern of Muc5ac, with Fut2 knock-out leading to a marked decrease in ?1,2-fucosylated structures and increased expression of the terminal type 1 glycan structure Lewis-a. Importantly, for the first time, we structurally validated the expression of Lewis-a in murine gastric mucosa. Finally, we demonstrated that loss of mucin FUT2-mediated fucosylation impairs gastric mucosal binding of H. pylori BabA adhesin, which is a recognized feature of pathogenicity.
Project description:The development of pathologic mucus, which is not readily cleared from the airways, is an important contributor to the morbidity and mortality associated with asthma. It is not clear how the major airway mucins MUC5AC and MUC5B are organized within the mucus gel or how this gel contributes to airway obstruction in asthma. Here, we demonstrated that mucus plugs from individuals with fatal asthma are heterogeneous gels with distinct MUC5AC- and MUC5B-containing domains. Stimulation of cultured human bronchial epithelial cells with IL-13, a key mediator in asthma, induced the formation of heterogeneous mucus gels and dramatically impaired mucociliary transport. Impaired transport was not associated with defects in ciliary function but instead was related to tethering of MUC5AC-containing mucus gel domains to mucus-producing cells in the epithelium. Replacement of tethered mucus with untethered mucus restored mucociliary transport. Together, our results indicate that tethering of MUC5AC-containing domains to the epithelium causes mucostasis and likely represents a major cause of mucus plugging in asthma.
Project description:To help define the genes associated with mucus synthesis and secretion in the human small airway epithelium, we hypothesized that comparison of the transcriptomes of the small airway epithelium of individuals that express high vs low levels of MUC5AC, a major secretory mucin and the major component of airway mucus, could be used as a probe to identify the genes related to human small airway mucus production / secretion. Genome-wide comparison between healthy nonsmokers grouped as “high MUC5AC expressors” vs “low MUC5AC expressors” identified significantly up-regulated and down-regulated genes in the high vs low expressors. Based on the literature, genes in the up-regulated list were used to identify a 73 “MUC5AC-associated core gene” list with 9 categories: mucus components; mucus-producing cell differentiation-related transcription factor; mucus-producing cell differentiation-related pathway or mediator; post-translational modification of mucin; vesicle transport; endoplasmic reticulum stress-related; secretory granule-associated; mucus secretion-related regulator and mucus hypersecretory-related ion channel. The identification of the genes associated with increased small airway mucin production in humans should be useful in identifying therapeutic targets to treat small airway mucus hypersecretion.
Project description:Acute lung injury (ALI) is associated with high morbidity and mortality in critically ill patients. At present, the functional contribution of airway mucins to ALI is unknown. We hypothesized that excessive mucus production could be detrimental during lung injury. Initial transcriptional profiling of airway mucins revealed a selective and robust induction of MUC5AC upon cyclic mechanical stretch exposure of pulmonary epithelia (Calu-3). Additional studies confirmed time- and stretch-dose-dependent induction of MUC5AC transcript or protein during cyclic mechanical stretch exposure in vitro or during ventilator-induced lung injury in vivo. Patients suffering from ALI showed a 58-fold increase in MUC5AC protein in their bronchoalveolar lavage. Studies of the MUC5AC promoter implicated nuclear factor ?B in Muc5ac induction during ALI. Moreover, mice with gene-targeted deletion of Muc5ac?/? experience attenuated lung inflammation and pulmonary edema during injurious ventilation. We observed that neutrophil trafficking into the lungs of Muc5ac?/? mice was selectively attenuated. This implicates that endogenous Muc5ac production enhances pulmonary neutrophil trafficking during lung injury. Together, these studies reveal a detrimental role for endogenous Muc5ac production during ALI and suggest pharmacological strategies to dampen mucin production in the treatment of lung injury.
Project description: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.
Project description:Mucin overproduction is a hallmark of otitis media (OM). Streptococcus pneumoniae is one of the most common bacterial pathogens causing OM. Mucin MUC5AC plays an important role in mucociliary clearance of bacterial pathogens. However, if uncontrolled, excessive mucus contributes significantly to conductive hearing loss. Currently, there is a lack of effective therapeutic agents that suppress mucus overproduction. In this study, we show that a currently existing antistroke drug, vinpocetine, a derivative of the alkaloid vincamine, inhibited S. pneumoniae-induced mucin MUC5AC upregulation in cultured middle ear epithelial cells and in the middle ear of mice. Moreover, vinpocetine inhibited MUC5AC upregulation by inhibiting the MAPK ERK pathway in an MKP-1-dependent manner. Importantly, ototopical administration of vinpocetine postinfection inhibited MUC5AC expression and middle ear inflammation induced by S. pneumoniae and reduced hearing loss and pneumococcal loads in a well-established mouse model of OM. Thus, these studies identified vinpocetine as a potential therapeutic agent for inhibiting mucus production in the pathogenesis of OM.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Diffuse airway mucus obstruction is an important feature of severe and fatal asthma. MUC5AC and MUC5B are the principal gel-forming mucins found in airway mucus. The mucin composition of airway mucus likely affects its functional properties.<h4>Methods</h4>We quantified the principal airway mucins MUC5AC and MUC5B in the sputum of age-matched children with acute and stable asthma and healthy control subjects by using Western blotting.<h4>Results</h4>Sputum samples from 38 children (13 with acute asthma, 15 with stable asthma, 10 control subjects) were obtained. Sputum MUC5AC concentrations were 7.6 μg/mL in control subjects, 22.4 μg/mL in those with stable asthma (P = .17), and 44.7 μg/mL in those with acute asthma (P < .05). MUC5B concentrations showed less variation, with 238.5, 208.4 and 165.9 μg/mL in control subjects, those with stable asthma, and those with acute asthma, respectively. The greater MUC5AC concentration in those with acute asthma resulted in a significantly altered MUC5B:MUC5AC ratio between control subjects and those with acute asthma (P < .05). Significant differences in MUC5B glycoforms were present between the groups, with the low-charge-only glycoform being found uniquely in those with acute asthma.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Increased MUC5AC and the presence of a low-charge-only MUC5B glycoform significantly altered mucin composition in children with acute asthma. These changes may be important contributory factors to the airway mucus obstruction observed during acute asthma.
Project description:Respiratory mucus contains a mixture of gel-forming mucins but the functional significance of these different mucin species is unknown. To help gain a better understanding of mucus in airways we therefore need to ascertain the concentration of each of the gel-forming mucins within respiratory secretions. Thus the aim of this study was to determine the amounts of specific gel-forming mucins directly from solubilized secretions of the airways and purified mucin preparations. We investigated the feasibility of using direct-binding ELISA employing mucin-specific antisera but were unable to obtain reliable data owing to interference with the immobilization of the mucins on the assay surface by 6 M urea and high levels of non-mucin proteins. We therefore developed an alternative approach based on quantitative Western blotting after agarose-gel electrophoresis, which was not subject to these problems. Here we demonstrate that this procedure provides reliable and reproducible data and have employed it to determine the amounts of the MUC2, MUC5AC and MUC5B mucins in saline-induced sputa from healthy airways and spontaneous sputa from asthmatic airways. Additionally we have used this procedure to analyse these glycoproteins in mucin preparations purified from cystic fibrosis (CF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) mucus. Our findings indicate that MUC5AC and MUC5B are the major oligomeric mucins and that airways mucus contains variable amounts of these glycoproteins. By contrast, the MUC2 mucin comprised, at most, only 2.5% of the weight of the gel-forming mucins, indicating that MUC2 is a minor component in sputum. Finally, we show that the amounts and glycosylated variants of the MUC5AC and MUC5B mucins can be altered significantly in diseased airways with, for instance, an increase in the low-charge form of the MUC5B mucin in CF and COPD mucus.
Project description:Mucus hypersecretion contributes to morbidity and mortality in many obstructive lung diseases. Gel-forming mucins are the chief glycoprotein components of airway mucus, and elevated expression of these during mucous metaplasia precedes the hypersecretory phenotype. Five orthologous genes (MUC2, MUC5AC, MUC5B, MUC6, and MUC19) encode the mammalian gel-forming mucin family, and several have been implicated in asthma, cystic fibrosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease pathologies. However, in the absence of a comprehensive analysis, their relative contributions remain unclear. Here, we assess the expression of the entire gel-forming mucin gene family in allergic mouse airways and show that Muc5ac is the predominant gel-forming mucin induced. We previously showed that the induction of mucous metaplasia in ovalbumin-sensitized and -challenged mouse lungs occurs within bronchial Clara cells. The temporal induction and localization of Muc5ac transcripts correlate with the induced expression and localization of mucin glycoproteins in bronchial airways. To better understand the tight regulation of Muc5ac expression, we analyzed all available 5'-flanking sequences of mammalian MUC5AC orthologs and identified evolutionarily conserved regions within domains proximal to the mRNA coding region. Analysis of luciferase reporter gene activity in a mouse transformed Clara cell line demonstrates that this region possesses strong promoter activity and harbors multiple conserved transcription factor-binding motifs. In particular, SMAD4 and HIF-1alpha bind to the promoter, and mutation of their recognition motifs abolishes promoter function. In conclusion, Muc5ac expression is the central event in antigen-induced mucous metaplasia, and phylogenetically conserved 5' noncoding domains control its regulation.