Autoantibodies to gastric cellular antigens and glycoproteins including mucins and Lewis X and Y antigens have been implicated in the induction of autoimmune gastritis. Monoclonal antibody D10 (D10 MAb) recognizes a highly conserved mucin expressed in the foregut of mammals and other vertebrates. The objective of this study was to biochemically characterize the autoantigen identified by D10 MAb and examine its autoimmunogenicity in the mouse. Characterization of the mucin autoantigen was undertaken following purification, by amino acid and carbohydrate analyses, deglycosylation, SDS-PAGE, and immunoblotting using D10 MAb. Autoimmune reactivity and specificity of D10 MAb were validated by immunohistochemistry and ELISA using mouse tissue. Induction of autoimmune gastritis was investigated following immunization of mice with D10 MAb-reactive heterologous mucin. D10 MAb was shown to be a murine anti-mucin autoantibody with a unique pattern of immunohistochemical staining of Brunner's glands of the duodenum and the cardiac glands, mucous neck cells, and pyloric glands of the stomach from inbred Balb/c mice in patterns identical to that previously reported in human tissue. Amino acid and carbohydrate analysis of purified D10 mucin reflected a compositional profile of a typical mucin molecule. Confirmation that D10 MAb recognizes a mucin was also provided by demonstration that the carbohydrate epitope resides on a high molecular weight (>1x10(6)Da), high-density (>1.40 g/mL) molecule comprised of greater than 60% carbohydrate. Mice immunized with D10 MAb-reactive, purified, heterologous mucin produced autoantibodies of identical specificity to the original D10 MAb. These data demonstrate the autoimmunogenic properties of a novel foregut mucin and raise the potential of anti-mucin autoantibodies in the induction of autoimmune gastritis.