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Dmitry Voronov, Anastasia Gromova, Daren Liu, Driss Zoukhri, Alexander Medvinsky, Robyn Meech, Helen P. Makarenkova; Transcription Factors Runx1 to 3 Are Expressed in the Lacrimal Gland Epithelium and Are Involved in Regulation of Gland Morphogenesis and Regeneration. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2013;54(5):3115-3125. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.13-11791.
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Lacrimal gland (LG) morphogenesis and repair are regulated by a complex interplay of intrinsic factors (e.g., transcription factors) and extrinsic signals (e.g., soluble growth/signaling factors). Many of these interconnections remain poorly characterized. Runt-related (Runx) factors belong to a small family of heterodimeric transcription factors known to regulate lineage-specific proliferation and differentiation of stem cells. The purpose of this study was to define the expression pattern and the role of Runx proteins in LG development and regeneration.
Expression of epithelial-restricted transcription factors in murine LG was examined using immunostaining, qRT-PCR, and RT2Profiler PCR microarrays. The role of Runx transcription factors in LG morphogenesis was studied using siRNA and ex vivo LG cultures. Expression of Runx transcription factors during LG regeneration was assessed using in vivo model of LG regeneration.
We found that Runx factors are expressed in the epithelial compartment of the LG; in particular, Runx1 was restricted to the epithelium with highest level of expression in ductal and centroacinar cells. Downregulation of Runx1 to 3 expression using Runx-specific siRNAs abolished LG growth and branching and our data suggest that Runx1, 2, and 3 are partially redundant in LG development. In siRNA-treated LG, reduction of branching correlated with reduction of epithelial proliferation, as well as expression of cyclin D1 and the putative epithelial progenitor cell marker cytokeratin-5. Runx1, Runx3, and cytokeratin-5 expression increased significantly in regenerating LG and there was modest increase in Runx2 expression during LG differentiation.
Runx1 and 2 are new markers of the LG epithelial lineage and Runx factors are important for normal LG morphogenesis and regeneration.
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