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Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2004 May;286(5):L1075-83.

Functional diversity of notch family genes in fetal lung development.

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Brigham & Women's Hospital, Dept. of Pathology, 75 Francis St., Boston, MA 02115, USA.


In Drosophila, developmental signaling via the transmembrane Notch receptor modulates branching morphogenesis and neuronal differentiation. To determine whether the notch gene family can regulate mammalian organogenesis, including neuroendocrine cell differentiation, we evaluated developing murine lung. After demonstrating gene expression for notch-1, notch-2, notch-3, and the Notch ligands jagged-1 and jagged-2 in embryonic mouse lung, we tested whether altering expression of these genes can modulate branching morphogenesis. Branching of embryonic day (E) 11.5 lung buds increased when they were treated with notch-1 antisense oligodeoxynucleotides in culture compared with the corresponding sense controls, whereas notch-2, notch-3, jagged-1, or jagged-2 antisense oligos had no significant effect. To assess cell differentiation, we immunostained lung bud cultures for the neural/neuroendocrine marker PGP9.5. Antisense to notch-1 or jagged-1 markedly increased numbers of PGP9.5-positive neuroendocrine cells alone without affecting neural tissue, whereas only neural tissue was promoted by notch-3 antisense in culture. There was no significant effect on cell proliferation or apoptosis in these antisense experiments. Cumulatively, these observations suggest that interactions between distinct Notch family members can have diverse tissue-specific regulatory functions during development, arguing against simple functional redundancy.

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