Salivary Mucin 19 Glycoproteins: Innate Immune Functions in Streptococcus mutans-Induced Caries in Mice and Evidence for Expression in Human Saliva [Glycobiology and Extracellular Matrices]

December 15th, 2014 by Culp, D. J., Robinson, B., Cash, M. N., Bhattacharyya, I., Stewart, C., Cuadra-Saenz, G.

Saliva functions in innate immunity of the oral cavity, protecting against demineralization of teeth (i.e., dental caries), a highly prevalent infectious disease associated with Streptococcus mutans, a pathogen also linked to endocarditis and atheromatous plaques. Gel-forming mucins are a major constituent of saliva. Because Muc19 is the dominant salivary gel-forming mucin in mice, we studied Muc19-/- mice for changes in innate immune functions of saliva in interactions with S. mutans. When challenged with S. mutans and a cariogenic diet, total smooth and sulcal surface lesions are more than 2-fold and 1.6-fold higher in Muc19-/- mice compared to wild type, whereas the severity of lesions are up to 6-fold and 10-fold higher, respectively. Furthermore, the oral microbiota of Muc19-/- mice display higher levels of indigenous streptococci. Results emphasize the importance of a single salivary constituent in the innate immune functions of saliva. In vitro studies of S. mutans and Muc19 interactions (i.e., adherence, aggregation and biofilm formation) demonstrate Muc19 poorly aggregates S. mutans. Nonetheless, aggregation is enhanced upon adding Muc19 to saliva from Muc19-/- mice, indicating Muc19 assists in bacterial clearance through formation of heterotypic complexes with salivary constituents that bind S. mutans, thus representing a novel innate immune function for salivary gel-forming mucins. In humans, expression of salivary MUC19 is unclear. We find MUC19 transcripts in salivary glands of seven subjects, and demonstrate MUC19 glycoproteins in glandular mucous cells and saliva. Similarities and differences between mice and humans in the expression and functions of salivary gel-forming mucins are discussed.
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