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Eur J Hum Genet. 2001 May;9(5):347-54.

Genetic polymorphism of MUC7: allele frequencies and association with asthma.

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MRC Human Biochemical Genetics Unit, Galton Lab, University College London, 4 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2HE, UK.


MUC7 encodes a small salivary mucin, previously called MG2, a glycoprotein with a putative role in facilitating the clearance of oral bacteria. The central domain of this glycoprotein was previously shown to comprise five or six tandemly repeated units of 23 amino-acids which carry most of the O-linked glycans. The polymorphism of these two allelic forms (MUC7*5 or MUC7*6) has been confirmed in this study in which we have analysed a large cohort of subjects (n = 375) of various ethnic origins. We have also identified a novel rare allele with eight tandem repeats (MUC7*8). MUC7*6 was the most common allele (0.78-0.95) in all the populations tested. The tandem repeat arrays of 22 MUC7*5 alleles and 34 MUC7*6 alleles were sequenced. No sequence differences were detected in any of the MUC7*6 alleles. Twenty-one MUC7*5 alleles sequenced lacked the 4th tandem repeat (structure TR12356), while one showed the structure TR12127. The structure of the MUC7*8 allele was TR12343456. Because of the known role of MUC7 in bacterial binding, and thus its potential involvement in susceptibility to chest disease we also tested MUC7 in our previously described series of Northern European atopic individuals with and without associated asthma. The MUC7*5 allele was rarer in the atopic asthmatics than in the atopic non-asthmatics (P = 0.014, OR for no asthma in atopic individuals 3.13, CI 1.01-6.10), and the difference in frequency between all asthmatics and all non-asthmatics was statistically significant (P = 0.009) while there was no difference between atopy and non-atopy (P = 0.199). In this study we also report the electrophoretic analysis of the MUC7 glycoprotein in saliva from individuals of different MUC7 genotype.

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