PerspectivePhysiology

Forming a mucus barrier along the colon

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Science  23 Oct 2020:
Vol. 370, Issue 6515, pp. 402-403
DOI: 10.1126/science.abe7194

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Summary

The intestine is exposed to numerous hazards and is heavily colonized by microorganisms. This requires a balanced protective system, which includes secreted mucus layers that play an important role in keeping luminal contents, including bacteria, separated from the epithelium (1). Intestinal mucus contains many different proteins, and the densely O-glycosylated mucin 2 (MUC2) is the core molecule (2, 3). Colonic mucus defects that allow bacteria to reach the epithelium have been associated with colitis (4). On page 467 of this issue, Bergstrom et al. (5) expand our understanding of the colonic mucus system by showing that mucus from proximal colonic regions contributes extensively to forming the protective barrier in the distal colon. This work highlights the role of the colonic tissue as a whole in driving mucus barrier formation and indicates the potential for regionally targeted therapeutic interventions in intestinal disease.

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