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FGF10 is an essential regulator of tracheal submucosal gland morphogenesis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-166
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
Early online date6 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2019


King's Authors


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 SMGdependent
respiratory health.

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