Towards a Better Understanding of the Structural and Functional Properties of Salivary Mucins

Alexandria, VA – A symposium exploring the significance, interactions, and evolutionary mechanisms of salivary mucins was featured at the 52nd Annual Meeting & Exhibition of the AADOCR, held in conjunction with the 47th Annual Meeting of the CADR. The AADOCR/CADR Annual Meeting & Exhibition took place at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland on March 15-18, 2023.

Mucin proteins in saliva are responsible for the unique physicochemical properties of saliva that include lubrication, viscosity, and barrier function. A dense array of O-glycans attached to the mucin protein backbone provide mucins with their typical functions. 

Recently, with the help of novel glycomics approaches , we have gained better insights into the significance of these O-glycans. The O-glycans also form an interface for interactions with the oral microbiota allowing commensal bacteria to attach to saliva-coated surfaces in the mouth. Conversely, mucins can also aggregate microbes and thus aid in the clearance of unwanted pathogens. Such host-microbe interactions likely acted as selective drivers of mucin and glycan evolution during host-microbe coevolution. A better understanding of the structural and functional properties of mucins will help in the generation of artificial mucin analogues that can be used in the composition of novel artificial saliva surrogates.

Sponsored by the IADR Salivary Research Group, the symposium featured the presentations, “Exploring the O-Glycome” by Lawrence A. Tabak of the National Institutes for Health, “A Mechanism of Gene Evolution Generating Mucin Function” by Omer Gokcumen of the University at Buffalo, “Interaction of Commensal Streptococci with Salivary Mucins” by Barbara Bensing of the University of California, San Francisco, and “Artificial Mucin Analogues” by Kamil Godula of the University of California, San Diego.

The symposium, “Salivary Mucins,” took place on Saturday, March 18th, 2023, at 8 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-07:00).

The American Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research (AADOCR) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to drive dental, oral, and craniofacial research to advance health and well-being. AADOCR represents the individual scientists, clinician-scientists, dental professionals, and students based in academic, government, non-profit and private-sector institutions who share our mission. AADOCR is the largest division of the International Association for Dental Research. Learn more at www.aadocr.org.