Localization of neonatal secretory proteins in different cell types of the rat submandibular gland from embryogenesis to adulthood

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In the neonatal rat submandibular gland, Type III cells contain a group of related proteins that we call the B1-immunoreactive proteins (B1-IP; 23.5, 26, and 27.5 kDa). Type I cells lack these, but synthesize a different protein, Protein C (89 kDa). With maturation of the gland, these neonatal cell types are no longer seen in the seromucous acini, which are no longer reactive for the B1-IP. Here, we report the ultrastructural immunocytochemical localization of the B1-IP and Protein C over the course of development. From their first appearance in the embryo, the B1-IP and Protein C are present in different cells which become morphologically typical Type I and III cells prior to birth. At all stages, Type I cells have strong Protein C labeling and no B1 labeling. By 3 days postpartum, ultrastructurally atypical Type III cells are seen (Type IIIP); these label for the B1-IP, but also show labeling with antibody to Protein C. In the next week, as mucous cells appear in the acini, these show both B1-IP and C labeling; the B1 marker is lost by 30 days postpartum, but adult mucous acinar cells continue to show Protein C reactivity. In view of the appearance of Protein C reactivity in neonatal Type IIIP and then in mucous cells, and the presence of B1 reactivity in early but not mature mucous cells, we suggest that Type III cells differentiate into mucous cells and that Type IIIP cells are intermediates in this transformation. We see no evidence for the differentiation of either Type III or mucous cells from Type I cells, although our data cannot rule out this possibility. In adult glands, cells with B1 labeling are seen in intercalated ducts. Cells that appear to be Type I cells are also present in these ducts and label for Protein C. Double labeling for B1-IP and Protein C demonstrated that the two markers were exclusively present in different cells within intercalated ducts. This is of considerable interest, as intercalated ducts have been reported to be the stem cell population for normal and trauma-induced cellular replacement. © 1990.

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