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Mucus secretion and mucociliary clearance are crucial processes required to maintain pulmonary homeostasis. In the trachea and nasal passages, mucus is secreted by submucosal glands (SMGs) that line the airway, with an additional contribution from goblet cells of the surface airway epithelium. The SMG mucus is rich in mucins and antimicrobial enzymes. Defective tracheal SMGs contribute to hyper-secretory respiratory diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, however little is known about the signals that regulate their morphogenesis and patterning. Here, we show that Fgf10 is essential for the normal development of murine tracheal SMGs, with gland development arresting at the early bud stage in the absence of FGF10 signalling. As Fgf10 knockout mice are lethal at birth, inducible knockdown of Fgf10 at late embryonic stages was used to follow postnatal gland formation, confirming the essential role of FGF10 in SMG development. In heterozygous Fgf10 mice the tracheal glands formed but with altered morphology and restricted distribution. The reduction in SMG branching in Fgf10 heterozygous mice was not rescued with time and resulted in a reduction in overall tracheal mucus secretion. Fgf10 is therefore a key signal in SMG development, influencing both the number of glands and extent of branching morphogenesis, and is likely, therefore, to play a role in aspects of SMG-dependent respiratory health.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Developmental biology
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