Reduced mucin sulfonation and impaired intestinal barrier function in the hyposulfataemic NaS1 null mouse

Gut. 2009 Jul;58(7):910-9. doi: 10.1136/gut.2007.147595. Epub 2009 Feb 6.


Objective: Sulfate (SO(4)(2-)) is an abundant component of intestinal mucins and its content is decreased in certain gastrointestinal diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease. In this study, the hyposulfataemic NaS1 sulfate transporter null (Nas1(-/-)) mice were used to investigate the physiological consequences of disturbed sulfate homeostasis on (1) intestinal sulfomucin content and mRNA expression; (2) intestinal permeability and proliferation; (3) dextran sulfate sodium (DSS)-induced colitis; and (4) intestinal barrier function against the bacterial pathogen, Campylobacter jejuni.

Methods: Intestinal sulfomucins and sialomucins were detected by high iron diamine staining, permeability was assessed by fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-dextran uptake, and proliferation was assessed by 5-bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation. Nas1(-/-) and wild-type (Nas1(+/+)) mice received DSS in drinking water, and intestinal damage was assessed by histological, clinical and haematological measurements. Mice were orally inoculated with C jejuni, and intestinal and systemic infection was assessed. Ileal mRNA expression profiles of Nas1(-/-) and Nas1(+/+) mice were determined by cDNA microarrays and validated by quantitative real-time PCR.

Results: Nas1(-/-) mice exhibited reduced intestinal sulfomucin content, enhanced intestinal permeability and DSS-induced colitis, and developed systemic infections when challenged orally with C jejuni. The transcriptional profile of 41 genes was altered in Nas1(-/-) mice, with the most upregulated gene being pancreatic lipase-related protein 2 and the most downregulated gene being carbonic anhydrase 1 (Car1).

Conclusion: Sulfate homeostasis is essential for maintaining a normal intestinal metabolic state, and hyposulfataemia leads to reduced intestinal sulfomucin content, enhanced susceptibility to toxin-induced colitis and impaired intestinal barrier to bacterial infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Campylobacter Infections / microbiology
  • Campylobacter jejuni / isolation & purification
  • Colitis / chemically induced
  • Colitis / metabolism*
  • Colitis / microbiology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intestinal Absorption / drug effects
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mucins / metabolism*
  • Time Factors


  • Mucins
  • sulfomucin