Mucin-type O-glycans and their roles in intestinal homeostasis

Glycobiology. 2013 Sep;23(9):1026-37. doi: 10.1093/glycob/cwt045. Epub 2013 Jun 10.


Mucin-type O-glycans are the primary constituents of mucins that are expressed on various mucosal sites of the body, especially the bacteria-laden intestinal tract. Mucins are the main components of mucus, which is secreted by goblet cells and forms a protective homeostatic barrier between the resident microbiota and the underlying immune cells in the colon. However, the specific role of mucin-type O-glycans in mucus barrier function has been uncertain. Recent studies utilizing mice deficient in key glycosyltransferases involved in O-glycan biosynthesis on intestinal mucins have underscored the importance of mucin-type O-glycosylation in mucus barrier function. This review will highlight recent advances in our understanding of mucin-type O-glycan function in the mucus barrier and how they promote mutualism with our resident microbiota.

Keywords: colitis; intestinal homeostasis; microbiota; mucin; mucin-type O-glycans.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Homeostasis*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Intestines / chemistry
  • Mucins / chemistry*
  • Mucins / metabolism*
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism*


  • Mucins
  • Polysaccharides