Modeling the human intestinal Mucin (MUC2) C-terminal cystine knot dimer

Vatsala D. Sadasivan, Sandeep R. Narpala, David E. Budil, Albert Sacco, Rebecca L. Carrier

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4 Scopus citations


Intestinal mucus, a viscous secretion that lines the mucosa, is believed to be a barrier to absorption of many therapeutic compounds and carriers, and is known to play an important physiological role in controlling pathogen invasion. Nevertheless, there is as yet no clear understanding of the barrier properties of mucus, such as the nature of the molecular interactions between drug molecules and mucus components as well as those that govern gel formation. Secretory mucins, large and complex glycoprotein molecules, are the principal determinants of the viscoelastic properties of intestinal mucus. Despite the important role that mucins play in controlling transport and in diseases such as cystic fibrosis, their structures remain poorly characterized. The major intestinal secretory mucin gene, MUC2, has been identified and fully sequenced. The present study was undertaken to determine a detailed structure of the cysteine-rich region within the C-terminal end of human intestinal mucin (MUC2) via homology modeling, and explore possible configurations of a dimer of this cysteine-rich region, which may play an important role in governing mucus gel formation. Based on sequence-structure alignments and three-dimensional modeling, a cystine knot tertiary structure homologous to that of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is predicted at the C-terminus of MUC2. Dimers of this C-terminal cystine knot (CTCK) were modeled using sequence alignment based on HCG and TGF-beta, followed by molecular dynamics and simulated annealing. Results support the formation of a cystine knot dimer with a structure analogous to that of HCG. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2953-2963
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Molecular Modeling
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Cystine knot
  • Dimer
  • Homology model
  • MUC2
  • Mucin
  • Mucus


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