Salivary glands, which are exocrine gland tissues, secrete saliva into the oral cavity. Saliva has digestive and antibacterial action and protects the oral mucosa. In xerostomia, salivary secretion is reduced. A team around Kenji MISHIMA from Showa University and RIKEN have identified, in mice, two genes (Sox9, Foxc1), which are important for the formation of salivary gland primordium. The group succeeded in regenerating 3D salivary glands by transfer of these genes into the mouse oral mucosal epithelium derived from ES cells. Induced salivary gland primordium derived from these ES cells was similar to embryonic salivary gland primordium as judged by morphological features and gene expression analysis.

RIKEN news release, October 12, 2018