MUC1 contributes to goblet cell metaplasia and MUC5AC expression in response to cigarette smoke in vivo

Kosuke Kato, Eugene H. Chang, Yin Chen, Wenju Lu, Marianne M. Kim, Maki Niihori, Louise Hecker, Kwang Chul Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Goblet cell metaplasia (GCM) and mucin overproduction are a hallmark of chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In the airways, cigarette smoke (CS) induces activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) leading to GCM and overexpression of the gel-forming mucin MUC5AC. Although previous studies have demonstrated that a membrane-bound mucin, MUC1, modulates the activation of CS-induced EGFR, the role of MUC1 in CS-induced GCM and mucin overproduction has not been explored. In response to CS exposure, wild-type (WT) rats displayed Muc1 translocation from the apical surface of airway epithelium to the intracellular compartment of hyperplastic intermediate cells, EGFR phosphorylation, GCM, and Muc5ac overproduction. Similarly, human CRS sinonasal tissues demonstrated hyperplasia of intermediate cells enriched with MUC1 in the intracellular compartment, which was accompanied by GCM and increased MUC5AC expression. To further evaluate the role of Muc1 in vivo, a Muc1 knockout (KO) rat (MUC in humans and Muc in animals) was developed. In contrast to WT littermates, Muc1-KO rats exhibited no activation of EGFR, and were protected from GCM and Muc5ac overproduction. Genetic knockdown of MUC1 in human lung or Muc1 knockout in primary rat airway epithelial cells led to significantly diminished EGF-induced MUC5AC production. Together, these findings suggest that MUC1-dependent EGFR activation mediates CS-induced GCM and mucin overproduction. Strategies designed to suppress MUC1-dependent EGFR activation may provide a novel therapeutic approach for treating mucin hypersecretion in CRS and COPD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L82-L90
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • Cigarette smoke
  • Goblet cell metaplasia
  • MUC1 mucin
  • MUC5AC
  • Mucus hypersecretion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'MUC1 contributes to goblet cell metaplasia and MUC5AC expression in response to cigarette smoke in vivo'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this