Protein plug obstruction of the pancreatic duct is one of the early events in chronic pancreatitis yet little is known about its pathogenesis. GP2, a protein in the exocrine pancreas, is a glycosyl phosphatidylinositol-anchored protein that is cleaved from the zymogen granule membrane and secreted into pancreatic juice. Since its homologue, uromodulin, is involved in renal cast formation, we asked the question whether GP2 might play a similar role in plug formation in chronic pancreatitis. The protein composition of intraductal plugs from patients with noncalcific chronic pancreatitis was examined. Plugs purified from pancreatic juice obtained by endoscopic cannulation were analyzed by SDS-PAGE. A 97-kD protein was found not only to be a reproducible constituent but also enriched within intraductal plugs. This protein was confirmed as GP2 by its localization to zymogen granule membranes, its isoelectric point, and by Western blotting. Although the pancreatic stone protein was identified in plugs, it was not a major reproducible component. These results demonstrate that GP2 is an integral component of plugs in pancreatic juice and suggest that GP2 may play a role in pancreatic plug formation that is analogous to the role played by uromodulin in the pathogenesis of renal casts.
S D Freedman, K Sakamoto, R P Venu