Background: The Notch signaling pathway plays complex roles in developing lungs, including regulation of proximodistal fates, airway cell specification and differentiation. However, the specific Notch-mediated signals involved in lung development remain unclear.
Results: Here we report that Jagged1 is expressed in a subset of bronchial and bronchiolar epithelial cells, where it controls proximal airway cell fate and differentiation. In agreement with previous studies involving disruption of all Notch signaling, we found that deletion of Jagged1 in airway epithelium increased the number of ciliated cells at the expense of Clara cells, a phenotype associated with downregulation of Hes1. Deletion of Jagged1 also led to an increased number of pulmonary neuroendocrine cells (PNEC), suggesting that Jagged1/Notch signaling inhibits PNEC cell fate. As expected, Jagged1 deletion did not affect alveolar cell differentiation, although alveolar septation was impaired, likely an indirect effect of proximal airway defects. Finally, in the postnatal lung, Jagged1 deletion induced mucous metaplasia, accompanied by downregulation of Hes1 and Hes5.
Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that Jagged1-mediated Notch signaling regulates multiple cell fate decisions as well as differentiation in the respiratory system to coordinate lung development and to maintain a balance of airway cell types in adult life.
Copyright © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.