• salivary gland;
  • epithelial cell differentiation;
  • notch;
  • Hes1


The Notch pathway is crucial for stem/progenitor cell maintenance, growth and differentiation in a variety of tissues. The Notch signaling is essential for Drosophila salivary gland development but its role in mammalian salivary gland remains unclear. The human salivary epithelial cell line, HSG, was studied to determine the role of Notch signaling in salivary epithelial cell differentiation. HSG expressed Notch 1 to 4, and the Notch ligands Jagged 1 and 2 and Delta 1. Treatment of HSG cells with inhibitors of γ-secretase, which is required for Notch cleavage and activation, blocked vimentin and cystatin S expression, an indicator of HSG differentiation. HSG differentiation was also associated with Notch downstream signal Hes-1 expression, and Hes-1 expression was inhibited by γ-secretase inhibitors. siRNA corresponding to Notch 1 to 4 was used to show that silencing of all four Notch receptors was required to inhibit HSG differentiation. Normal human submandibular gland expressed Notch 1 to 4, Jagged 1 and 2, and Delta 1, with nuclear localization indicating Notch signaling in vivo. Hes-1 was also expressed in the human tissue, with staining predominantly in the ductal cells. In salivary tissue from rats undergoing and recovering from ductal obstruction, we found that Notch receptors and ligands were expressed in the nucleus of the regenerating epithelial cells. Taken together, these data suggest that Notch signaling is critical for normal salivary gland cell growth and differentiation. Developmental Dynamics 238:724–731, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.