Homeobox-containing (Hox) genes play important roles in development, particularly in the development of neurons and sensory organs, and in specification of body plan. The Hmx gene family is a new class of homeobox-containing genes defined by a conserved homeobox region and a characteristic pattern of expression in the central nervous system that is more rostral than that of the Hox genes. To date, three closely related members of the Hmx family, Hmx1, Hmx2, and Hmx3, have been described. All three Hmx genes are expressed in the craniofacial region of developing embryos. Here we show, for the first time, the expression of the transcription factor Hmx3 in postnatally developing salivary glands. Hmx3 protein is expressed in a cell type-specific manner in rat salivary glands. Hmx3 is present in both the nuclei and cytoplasm of specific groups of duct cells of the submandibular, parotid, and sublingual glands. Hmx3 expression increases during postnatal development of the submandibular gland. The duct cells show increasing concentrations of Hmx3 protein with progressive development of the submandibular gland. In contrast, the acinar cells of the three salivary glands do not exhibit detectable levels of Hmx3 protein.
- Duct cells
- Homeobox protein
- Submandibular gland development