Biochemistry and lectin binding properties of mammalian salivary mucous glycoproteins.

A. Herp*, C. Borelli, A. M. Wu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


The molecules responsible for the highly viscous properties of mucus are secretory glycoproteins referred to as mucins. Salivary mucins are characterized by a high sugar to protein ratio and are of a broad range of molecular weight from 7 x 10(4) to millions. With a few exceptions, they contain up to 30% of hexosamine (galactosamine and glucosamine), 8-33% of sialic acid, trace to 15% of galactose or fucose and little or no mannose. The size of carbohydrate side chains of these glycoproteins ranges from one to about fifteen units of sugar. These carbohydrate side chains are usually O-glycosidically linked through N-acetylgalactosamine to a peptidyl serine or threonine. In some instances, ester sulfate groups, mainly on N-acetylglucosamine, are also a structural feature. In many of these glycoproteins, the saccharide sequence is the same as that which determines the specificity of blood groups. Carbohydrate sequence analysis shows that salivary mucins exhibit considerable polydispersity, great diversity and remarkable structural flexibility not only among animal species but also within the same mucin molecule. Based on their lectin-binding ability, they can be used for purification of lectins, and lectins coupled to resin may be useful for the isolation of mucin-type glycoproteins. The epithelial mucous secretions modulate oral microbial flora; many secretory components serve as lectin-receptors for the attachment of microbes. The judicious use of lectins with widely differing binding characteristics has already been valuable in the in situ localization of salivary glycoproteins, in elucidating structural details, recording sugar density within a given tissue section, and defining host-parasite interactions. It is hoped that their use, together with monoclonal antibody (158) and tissue culture techniques (159, 160) will further clarify the roles of individual secretory mucous glycoproteins in health and disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-435
Number of pages41
JournalAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
StatePublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Biochemistry and lectin binding properties of mammalian salivary mucous glycoproteins.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this