Volume 89 Issue 10 | p. 43
Issue Date: March 1, 2011

Mucus Proteins Make Hydrophobic Pollutants More Toxic

Toxicology: Glycoproteins that line animals' respiratory and digestive tracts bind polyaromatic hydrocarbons, helping the pollutants enter cells
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Environmental SCENE
Keywords: mucin, glycoprotein, polycyclic, aromatic hydrocarbon

A slippery gel coats the surfaces of animals' respiratory, digestive, and reproductive tracts. Scientists thought that this mucus layer, made of glycoproteins called mucins, helped shield organisms from pathogens, particulates, and chemicals that they breathed or ingested. But a new study has revealed a possible chink in this armor: Mucins could actually help certain pollutants enter organisms' cells (Chem. Res. Toxicol., DOI:

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