The mucins (mucus glycoproteins) have long been a complex corner of glycoprotein biology. While dramatic advances in the separation, structural an- ysis, biosynthesis, and degradation have marked the progress in general glycop- tein understanding, the mucins have lagged behind. The reasons for this lack of progress have always been clear and are only now being resolved. The mucins are very large molecules; they are difficult to separate from other molecules present in mucosal secretions or membranes; they are often degraded owing to natural protective functions or to isolation methodology and their peptide and oligos- charide structures are varied and complex. Understanding these molecules has demanded progress in several major areas. Isolation techniques that protect the intact mucins and allow dissociation from other adsorbed but discrete molecules needed to be developed and accepted by all researchers in the field. Improved methods for the study of very large molecules with regard to their aggregation and polymerization were also needed. Structural analysis of the peptide domains and the multitude of oligosaccharide chains was required for smaller sample sizes, for multiple samples, and in shorter time. In view of these problems it is perhaps not surprising that the mucins have remained a dilemma, of obvious biological importance and interest, but very difficult to analyze.
From the Back Cover
Anthony P. Corfield and a group of hands-on expermentalists bring together in Glycoprotein Methods and Protocols: The Mucins a state-of-the-art collection of reliable and tested methods for the study of all aspects of mucins. These powerful methods range from the preparation of mucins to their detection and quantitation with molecular biological and biochemical reagents. Also included are methods for the assessment of mucin peptide and carbohydrate, of mucin biosynthesis and degradation, and of mucin bacteriology and cell biology. The techniques take advantage of the latest improvements in sensitivity and specificity of detection, and in the preparation of new reagents for specific biochemical detection. Glycoprotein Methods and Protocols: The Mucins offers today's researchers a complete range of readily reproducible analytical techniques for studying mucins. Its powerful techniques constitute a launching pad for those entering the field for the first time and a state-of-the-art collection for those already active in mucin research.