Production and localization of Muc4/Sialomucin complex and its receptor tyrosine kinase ErbB2 in the rat lacrimal gland

M. E. Arango, P. Li, M. Komatsu, C. Montes, C. A.C. Carraway, K. L. Carraway

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39 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. To show the presence and forms of sialomucin complex (rat Muc4) and receptor tyrosine kinase ErbBs in the rat lacrimal gland and analyze for complexes of ErbB2 and its ligand Muc4. METHODS. Northern blot analyses were used to identify sialomucin complex/Muc4 (SMC/Muc4) mRNA in rat lacrimal gland. Immunoblot analyses were performed to detect SMC/Muc4 and ErbBs. Sequential immunoprecipitation and immunoblot analyses were used to differentiate membrane and soluble forms of the SMC/Muc4 transmembrane subunit ASGP-2. Methacarn-fixed, paraffin-embedded sections of lacrimal glands from female adult rats were immunocytochemically stained using antisera to SMC/Muc4 and ErbBs to determine their relative locations in the gland. Colocalization of SMC/Muc4 and ErbB2 was confirmed by confocal immunofluorescence. Sequential immunoprecipitation and immunoblot were performed to analyze complexes of the SMC/Muc4 and ErbB2 in the lacrimal tissue. RESULTS. Northern blot analyses of rat lacrimal glands, with a probe for SMC/Muc4, demonstrated the presence of a ∼9-kb transcript, consistent with observations in other tissues. Similarly, immunoblot analyses with antibodies against both the transmembrane (ASGP-2) and mucin (ASGP-1) subunits showed the presence of the two SMC/Muc4 subunits in lysates from rat lacrimal gland. Significantly, two different forms of ASGP-2 were observed, a high-molecular-weight (∼200-kDa) form and the more common 120- to 140-kDa form. Sequential immunoprecipitation and immunoblot analyses to differentiate membrane and soluble forms of SMC/Muc4 indicated that the high-molecular-weight form of ASGP-2 was predominantly associated with membranes, whereas the 120- to 140-kDa form was both membrane-associated and soluble. The lacrimal gland consists of acini connected by intercalated and interlobular ducts. Both acini and some intercalated ducts were stained by anti-ASGP-2 monoclonal antisera. Two patterns of acinar staining were observed: membrane staining at the borders of the epithelial cells and a granular staining within the cells. Staining of ductal surfaces with antibody to the cytoplasmic domain of ASGP-2 suggests that membrane SMC/Muc4 is being produced by the ductal cells and is not simply an adsorbed soluble product from the acinar cells. Immunoblot and immunocytochemical analyses demonstrated the presence of all four ErbBs, with ErbB2 showing the most widespread distribution, similar to that of SMC/Muc4. Immunofluorescence colocalization of membrane SMC/Muc4 and ErbB2 and coimmunoprecipitation of a complex of the two provided evidence of their association in membranes of lacrimal gland acinar cells. CONCLUSIONS. SMC/Muc4 is produced by the rat lacrimal gland as both membrane and soluble forms, specifically associated with both acinar and ductal cells. Because sialomucin complex is also present in the ocular tear film, the rat lacrimal gland represents a second source of this mucin for the tear film, in addition to the corneal and conjunctival epithelia. Moreover, the presence of a complex of SMC/Muc4 and the receptor tyrosine kinase ErbB2 in lacrimal tissue suggests that SMC Muc4 acts as a ligand for the receptor and has functions in the lacrimal gland other than that of a mucin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2749-2756
Number of pages8
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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