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Abstract

The anterior buccal gland of the rat is a mucous salivary gland which develops as a branch of the main (Stensen's) duct of the serous parotid gland, a few mm from its oral orifice. The purpose of the present study was to further characterize the mature gland by means of electron microscopy and the histochemical demonstration of myoepithelial cells. The tubuloacini were found to have intercellular extensions (canaliculi) of the lumina, prominent Golgi complexes, and mucous secretory granules with a biphasic substructure. Discharge was by exocytosis of individual granules. The tubuloacini joined directly to striated ducts; no intercalated ducts were seen. First-order excretory ducts had larger lumina and shorter columnar cells, with fewer mitochondria and basal infoldings, than the striated ducts. Myoepithelial cells invested the tubuloacini but not the ducts. The anterior buccal gland has several features that are unusual for a minor salivary gland of mucous type, and which are usually associated with serous glands such as the parotid. It should provide a particularly interesting model for investigating factors which control the differentiation of secretory and myoepithelial cells, and the glycosylation of polypeptides to form mucous secretory products.