FGF signaling activates a Sox9-Sox10 pathway for the formation and branching morphogenesis of mouse ocular glands

Ziyan Chen, Jie Huang, Ying Liu, Lisa K. Dattilo, Sung Ho Huh, David Ornitz, David C. Beebe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Murine lacrimal, harderian and meibomian glands develop from the prospective conjunctival and eyelid epithelia and produce secretions that lubricate and protect the ocular surface. Sox9 expression localizes to the presumptive conjunctival epithelium as early as E11.5 and is detected in the lacrimal and harderian glands as they form. Conditional deletion showed that Sox9 is required for the development of the lacrimal and harderian glands and contributes to the formation of the meibomian glands. Sox9 regulates the expression of Sox10 to promote the formation of secretory acinar lobes in the lacrimal gland. Sox9 and FGF signaling were required for the expression of cartilage-associated extracellular matrix components during early stage lacrimal gland development. Fgfr2 deletion in the ocular surface epithelium reduced Sox9 and eliminated Sox10 expression. Sox9deletionfromthe ectoderm did not affect Fgf10 expression in the adjacent mesenchyme or Fgfr2 expression in the epithelium, but appeared to reduce FGF signaling. Sox9 heterozygotes showed a haploin sufficient phenotype, in which the exorbital branch of the lacrimal gland was absent in most cases. However,enhancement of epithelial FGF signaling by expression of a constitutively active FGF receptor only partially rescued the lacrimal gland defects in Sox9 heterozygotes, suggesting a crucial role of Sox9, downstream of FGF signaling,inregulating lacrimal gland branching and differentiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2691-2701
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopment (Cambridge)
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • FGF signaling
  • Harderian gland
  • Lacrimal gland
  • Sox10
  • Sox9

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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