The glycoprotein MUC15 (mucin 15) was initially isolated from the bovine milk fat globule membrane. The present work demonstrates the existence of immunologically similar proteins ( approximately 130 kDa) in ovine, caprine, porcine, and buffalo milk samples. Purification and N-terminal amino acid sequencing confirmed the presence of ovine and caprine MUC15 orthologs in milk fat globule membranes. Expression of MUC15 in human milk was demonstrated by immunostaining ( approximately 150 kDa) as well as by mass spectrometry. Screening of a human multiple tissue expression array showed abundant MUC15 gene expression in placenta, salivary gland, thyroid gland, trachea, esophagus, kidney, testis, and the leukemia K-562 cell line. Furthermore, moderate expression was seen in the pancreas, adult and fetal lung, fetal kidney, lymph node, adult and fetal thymus, and parietal lobe. Structural motifs for interactions (epidermal growth factor receptor and Src homology 2 domains) are identified in the intracellular region. Implication of the mucin in signal transduction and the potential physiological function of MUC15 are discussed.
Journal of Dairy Science, 2008, Vol 91, Issue 12, p. 4477-83