Mechanism by Which Bacterial Flagellin Stimulates Host Mucin Production

  • Nancy McNamara
  • Carol Basbaum
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 506)


In their quest to colonize and infect host tissues, bacteria cause considerable damage to their hosts. Based on this, an evolutionary trend has occurred for host organisms to develop defense mechanisms against bacteria. One is mucin production. Mucin is a high molecular weight glycoprotein synthesized by non-keratinized epithelial cells at the boundary of the host with its environment. The size of a single mucin monomer can be as large as 1 million daltons, most of which is composed of carbohydrate residue. Mucin molecules polymerize by disulfide bonds and electrostatic interactions to form a viscoelastic gel that effectively augments the barrier between host and bacteria. In the respiratory tract, bacteria-laden mucus is conducted toward the throat by cilia and then either swallowed or expectorated. In the eye, bacteria-laden mucus is cleared by blinking.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy McNamara
    • 1
  • Carol Basbaum
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnatomyUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA

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