The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 65: 497 - 504 (2021)

Vol 65, Issue 7-8-9

Canonical Wnt signaling regulates branching morphogenesis of submandibular gland by modulating levels of lama5

Original Article | Published: 17 February 2021

Liming Gou*, Xiaochun Ren and Ping Ji*

Chongqing Key Laboratory of Oral Diseases and Biomedical Sciences, and Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, The Stomatological Hospital of Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing, China


Branching morphogenesis is a crucial developmental mechanism for the formation of the typical bush-like structure of the submandibular gland (SMG). However, the detailed mechanism underlying this process remains to be fully understood. Here, we have investigated whether cross-talk may exist between the Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway and lama5 during the branching process in SMG development. An embryonic mouse SMG organ culture model was established, and the validity of this model was confirmed. The roles and possible interactions of the Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway, FGF signaling, and lama5 in the branching process were investigated by morphogenesis assays and gene expression patterns. Here, we show that the E12 or E13 SMG organ culture model can be used as an ideal approach to study the process of branching morphogenesis. Our branching morphogenesis assay revealed that the epithelial branching process can be promoted when the canonical Wnt pathway is inhibited and significantly suppressed when the wnt pathway is over activated. Further experiments indicated that FGF signaling most likely acts upstream as a negative regulator of the canonical Wnt pathway during the branching process, whose effect could be partially reversed by Wnt3a. Finally, we show that Wnt/beta-catenin signaling regulates branching morphogenesis through Lama5. We conclude that the Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway acting downstream of FGF signaling can serve as a negative regulatory mechanism in the process of SMG branching morphogenesis through Lama5.


salivary gland, organ culture, Wnt/β -catenin signal transduction pathway, laminin

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