Research Papers:

MUC2 mucin deficiency alters inflammatory and metabolic pathways in the mouse intestinal mucosa

Selamawit Tadesse, Georgia Corner, Elena Dhima, Michele Houston, Chandan Guha, Leonard Augenlicht and Anna Velcich _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:71456-71470. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.16886

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Selamawit Tadesse1,3, Georgia Corner1, Elena Dhima1, Michele Houston1, Chandan Guha2, Leonard Augenlicht1 and Anna Velcich1,2

1Department of Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Albert Einstein Cancer Center, NY, USA

2Department of Radiation Oncology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Albert Einstein Cancer Center, NY, USA

3Current Address: Flow Cytometer Resource Center, The Rockefeller University, NY, USA

Correspondence to:

Anna Velcich, email: [email protected]

Keywords: MUC2, mucin, inflammation, metabolism, tumorigenesis

Received: December 20, 2016     Accepted: March 27, 2017     Published: April 06, 2017


The mucus layer in the intestine affects several aspects of intestinal biology, encompassing physical, chemical protection, immunomodulation and growth, thus contributing to homeostasis. Mice with genetic inactivation of the Muc2 gene, encoding the MUC2 mucin, the major protein component of mucus, exhibit altered intestinal homeostasis, which is strictly dependent on the habitat, likely due to differing complements of intestinal microbes. Our previous work established that Muc2 deficiency was linked to low chronic inflammation resulting in tumor development in the small, large intestine including the rectum. Here, we report that inactivation of Muc2 alters metabolic pathways in the normal appearing mucosa of Muc2−/− mice. Comparative analysis of gene expression profiling of isolated intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) and the entire intestinal mucosa, encompassing IECs, immune and stromal cells underscored that more than 50% of the changes were common to both sets of data, suggesting that most alterations were IEC-specific. IEC-specific expression data highlighted perturbation of lipid absorption, processing and catabolism linked to altered Pparα signaling in IECs. Concomitantly, alterations of glucose metabolism induced expression of genes linked to de novo lipogenesis, a characteristic of tumor cells. Importantly, gene expression alterations characterizing Muc2−/− IECs are similar to those observed when analyzing the gene expression signature of IECs along the crypt-villus axis in WT B6 mice, suggesting that Muc2−/− IECs display a crypt-like gene expression signature. Thus, our data strongly suggest that decreased lipid metabolism, and alterations in glucose utilization characterize the crypt proliferative compartment, and may represent a molecular signature of pre-neoplastic lesions.

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