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Glycoconj J. 1998 May;15(5):457-67.

Structural features of the human salivary mucin, MUC7.

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Department of Oral Biology and Research Center in Oral Biology, School of Dental Medicine, State University of New York at Buffalo, 14214, USA.


Human salivary mucin (MUC7) is characterized by a single polypeptide chain of 357 aa. Detailed analysis of the derived MUC7 peptide sequence reveals five distinct regions or domains: (1) an N-terminal basic, histatin-like domain which has a leucine-zipper segment, (2) a moderately glycosylated domain, (3) six heavily glycosylated tandem repeats each consisting of 23 aa, (4) another heavily glycosylated MUC1- and MUC2-like domain, and (5) a C-terminal leucine-zipper segment. Chemical analysis and semi-empirical prediction algorithms for O-glycosylation suggested that 86/105 (83%) Ser/Thr residues were O-glycosylated with the majority located in the tandem repeats. The high (approximately 25%) proline content of MUC7 including 19 diproline segments suggested the presence of polyproline type structures. CD studies of natural and synthetic diproline-rich peptides and glycopeptides indicated that polyproline type structures do play a significant role in the conformational dynamics of MUC7. In addition, crystal structure analysis of a synthetic diproline segment (Boc-Ala-Pro-OBzl) revealed a polyproline type II extended structure. Collectively, the data indicate that the polyproline type II structure, dispersed throughout the tandem repeats, may impart a stiffening of the backbone and could act in consort with the glycosylated segments to keep MUC7 in a semi-rigid, rod shaped conformation resembling a 'bottle-brush' model.

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