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Characterization of Carbohydrate Structures of Bovine MUC15 and Distribution of the Mucin in Bovine Milk

Journal of Dairy Science
American Dairy Science Association
DOI: 10.3168/jds.2007-0082
  • Dairy Foods
  • Biology


Abstract The present work reports the characterization of carbohydrate structures and the distribution of the newly identified mucin MUC15, a highly glycosylated protein associated with the bovine milk fat globule membrane (MFGM). Distribution of MUC15 was investigated in various fractions of bovine milk by densitometric scanning of Western blots. In raw milk, MUC15 was shown to constitute 0.08% (wt) of the protein and approximately 1.5% (wt) of the MFGM-associated proteins. Surprisingly, this study showed that in addition to the fat-containing fractions, such as MFGM and buttermilk, MUC15 was present in nonfat-containing fractions as well, such as skim milk and whey. Compositional and structural studies of the carbohydrates of bovine milk MUC15 showed that the glycans are composed of fucose, galactose, mannose, N-acetylgalactosamine, N-acetylglycosamine, and sialic acid. The carbohydrate was shown to constitute 65% of the total molecular weight, and the molar ratios of the individual sugars to protein of the O-linked glycans were determined. The glycan structures of MUC15 were further studied by enzymatic deglycosylation experiments using different endo- and exoglycosidases as well as a panel of lectins. The N-linked glycans were shown to contain mainly hybrid-type N-glycans. In addition, the N-glycans were shown to be sialylated and contain terminal poly-lactosamine structures. The O-linked glycans were found to constitute some unsubstituted Core-1 structures and a substantial number of sialylated Core-1 O-linked glycans. By comparing the results of peanut agglutinin lectin binding, enzymatic deglycosylation, and monosaccharide composition analysis, we concluded that bovine MUC15 also contains more complex O-glycans containing high amounts N-acetylglucosamine residues. Furthermore, a small subset of the O-linked glycans is decorated with lactosamine on their terminal ends.

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