Background: Alagille syndrome is a developmental disorder caused predominantly by mutations in the Jagged1 (JAG1) gene, which encodes a ligand for Notch family receptors. A characteristic feature of Alagille syndrome is intrahepatic bile duct paucity. We described previously that mice doubly heterozygous for Jag1 and Notch2 mutations are an excellent model for Alagille syndrome. However, our previous study did not establish whether bile duct paucity in Jag1/Notch2 double heterozygous mice resulted from impaired differentiation of bile duct precursor cells, or from defects in bile duct morphogenesis.
Methodology/principal findings: Here we characterize embryonic biliary tract formation in our previously described Jag1/Notch2 double heterozygous Alagille syndrome model, and describe another mouse model of bile duct paucity resulting from liver-specific deletion of the Notch2 gene.
Conclusions/significance: Our data support a model in which bile duct paucity in Notch pathway loss of function mutant mice results from defects in bile duct morphogenesis rather than cell fate specification.