The salivary mucin MG1 (MUC5B) carries a repertoire of unique oligosaccharides that is large and diverse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The high-molecular-mass salivary mucin MG1, one of two major mucins produced by human salivary glands, plays an important role in oral health by coating the tooth surface and by acting as a bacterial receptor. Here this mucin was purified from the submandibular/sublingual saliva of a blood group O individual. The presence of MUC5B as the major mucin in this preparation was confirmed by amino acid analysis and its reactivity with the monoclonal antibody PAN H2. To structurally characterize MG1 carbohydrates the O-glycans were released by reductive beta-elimination. Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy of the nonfractionated mixture showed that (1) fucose was present in blood group H, Le(a), Le(x), Le(b), and Le(y) epitopes; (2) NeuAc was mainly linked alpha2-3 to Gal or alpha2-6 to GalNAcol; and (3) the major internal structures were core 1 and core 2 sequences. After this preliminary analysis the released oligosaccharides were separated into neutral (56%), sialylated (26%), and sulfated (19%) fractions, with an average length of 13, 17, and 41 sugar residues, respectively. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry of mixtures of neutral and sialylated oligosaccharides revealed at least 62 neutral and 25 sialylated oligosaccharides consisting of up to 20 monosaccharide residues. These results showed that the MG1-derived oligosaccharides were much longer than those of MG2, and only a few species were found on both molecules. Thus, these two mucins create an enormous repertoire of potential binding sites for microorganisms at one of the major portals where infectious organisms enter the body.


  • KA Thomsson
  • A Prakobphol
  • Hakon Leffler
  • MS Reddy
  • MJ Levine
  • SJ Fisher
  • GC Hansson
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


  • mass spectrometry, oligosaccharide, salivary gland, proton NMR spectroscopy, mucin
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Publication categoryResearch