Regulated expression of MUC1 epithelial antigen in erythropoiesis

Aurelia Rughetti, Mauro Biffoni, Luca Pierelli, Hassan Rahimi, Giuseppina Bonanno, Serena Barachini, Ilenia Pellicciotta, Chiara Napoletano, Edoardo Pescarmona, Angelo Del Nero, Patrizia Pignoloni, Luigi Frati, Marianna Nuti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


MUC1 is a large surface glycoprotein expressed by epithelial cells, which is overexpressed and aberrantly glycosylated in carcinomas. MUC1 is involved in epithelial cell interactions and appears to function as a signal-transducing molecule. The finding that MUC1 can also be expressed in the haematopoietic lineages prompted us to further investigate the possible function(s) of this molecule in haematopoietic cells. In bone marrow differentiating cells, MUC1 was strongly and selectively expressed during erythropoiesis; it was also weakly expressed during megakaryocytopoiesis and granulomonocytopoiesis; however, no correlation between MUC1 and differentiation marker expression was observed in these lineages. In vitro CD34+ cells, induced towards erythroid differentiation, acquired MUC1 transiently, while expressing increasing levels of the lineage marker glycophorin A. MUC1 was absent in the circulating erythrocytes. During erythropoiesis, MUC1 expression was transcriptionally regulated and the molecule underwent phosphorylation. To investigate the possible role of MUC1 during erythropoiesis, we studied the ability of MUC1 to act as ligand for cell-cell interaction. The sialylated MUC1 glycoforms selectively expressed on erythroid cells were able to bind the macrophage-restricted molecule sialoadhesin. These results suggest that MUC1 can function as a cross-talk molecule between the erythroblasts and the surrounding cells during erythropoiesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-352
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Haematology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2003


  • Cell-cell interaction
  • Erythropoiesis
  • Haematopoiesis
  • MUC1
  • Sialoadhesin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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