Transcriptional profiling reveals gland-specific differential expression in the three major salivary glands of the adult mouse

Xin Gao, Maria S. Oei, Catherine E. Ovitt, Murat Sincan, James E. Melvin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


RNA-Seq was used to better un-derstand the molecular nature of the biological differences among the three major exocrine salivary glands in mammals. Transcriptional profiling found that the adult murine parotid, submandibular, and sublingual salivary glands express greater than 14,300 protein-coding genes, and nearly 2,000 of these genes were differentially expressed. Principle component analysis of the differentially expressed genes revealed three distinct clusters according to gland type. The three salivary gland transcriptomes were dominated by a relatively few number of highly expressed genes (6.3%) that accounted for more than 90% of transcriptional output. Of the 912 transcription factors expressed in the major salivary glands, greater than 90% of them were detected in all three glands, while expression for ~2% of them was enriched in an individual gland. Expression of these unique transcription factors correlated with sublingual and parotid specific subsets of both highly expressed and differentially expressed genes. Gene ontology analyses revealed that the highly expressed genes common to all glands were associated with global functions, while many of the genes expressed in a single gland play a major role in the function of that gland. In summary, transcriptional profiling of the three murine major salivary glands identified a limited number of highly expressed genes, differentially expressed genes, and unique transcription factors that represent the transcriptional signatures underlying gland-specific biological properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-271
Number of pages9
JournalPhysiological genomics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Exocrine gland
  • Gene expression
  • RNA-Seq
  • Salivary gland
  • Transcription factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Genetics


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