Structure and biological roles of mucin-type O-glycans at the ocular surface

Ocul Surf. 2010 Jan;8(1):8-17. doi: 10.1016/s1542-0124(12)70213-6.

Abstract

Mucins are major components in mucus secretions and apical cell membranes on wet-surfaced epithelia. Structurally, they are characterized by the presence of tandem repeat domains containing heavily O-glycosylated serine and threonine residues. O-glycans contribute to maintaining the highly extended and rigid structure of mucins, conferring to them specific physical and biological properties essential for their protective functions. at the ocular surface epithelia, mucin-type O-glycan chains are short and predominantly sialylated, perhaps reflecting specific requirements of the ocular surface. Traditionally, secreted mucins and their O-glycans in the tear film have been involved in the clearance of debris and pathogens from the surface of the eye. New evidence, however, shows that O-glycans on the cell-surface glycocalyx have additional biological roles in the protection of corneal and conjunctival epithelia, such as preventing bacterial adhesion, promoting boundary lubrication, and maintaining the epithelial barrier function through their interaction with galectin-3. Abnormalities in mucin-type O-glycosylation have been identified in many disorders where the stability of the ocular surface is compromised. This review summarizes recent advances in understanding the structure, biosynthesis, and function of mucin-type O-glycans at the ocular surface and their alteration in ocular surface disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Eye / metabolism*
  • Eye Diseases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mucins / biosynthesis*
  • Mucins / chemistry*
  • Tears / metabolism*

Substances

  • Mucins