Investigations into the role of mPIP, the mouse homologue of hPIP/GCDFP-15, in innate host defense
mPIP is a mouse homologue of human PIP/GCDFP-15 which is an established marker of both malignant and benign pathological conditions of the mammary gland. mPIP gene expression has been identified in both lacrimal and salivary glands of healthy mice and the mPIP protein has been detected in saliva. The mPIP protein has been found to bind oral bacteria, showing the highest affinity for streptococci, suggesting a potential function of mPIP in the non-immune host defense in the mouse oral cavity. Since the exact functions of mPIP are still unknown, we examined the roles of mPIP through both in vitro and in vivo studies, specifically to address the possible role of this protein in non-immune host response through modulating the oral flora. The in vitro studies were primarily focused on elucidation of the consequences of interaction between mPIP and oral bacteria, in particular to examine whether mPIP plays a role in bacterial aggregation. The in vivo studies addressed the roles of mPIP through the analysis of an mPIP knockout mouse model generated in our laboratory. Following confirmation of the null mutation, the delineating the phenotype of this model was pursued through morphopathological analysis as well as examination of the impact of the lack of mPIP on the mouse oral flora. The null mutation in the mPIP knockout mice was confirmed by both the gene and protein analysis. Histological analysis revealed lymphocytic proliferation in both the submaxillary and prostate glands of the mPIP knockout mice. In addition, both quantitative and composition differences in the oral flora of mPIP knockout mice were identified when compared with wild-type controls. Specifically, a higher proportion of the oral bacteria of mPIP knockout mice were found to belong to genus Streptococcus and certain genera were found to be absent from the oral cavity of these mice. The effect of knockout mouse saliva, which lacks mPIP, on the aggregation of oral bacteria was compared to wild-type mouse saliva. Our data suggests that mPIP contributes to saliva-induced bacterial aggregation. While oral flora has multiple functions, including protection against infection, mPIP might play a role in the non-innate host defense through modulating the resident oral flora in the mouse. The identification of lymphocytic proliferation in submaxillary and prostate glands of mPIP knockout mice suggests that mPIP might also interfere with lymphocyte activity, playing a possible immunomodulatory role.