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UofL researchers uncover mechanism in saliva production
Date:6/2/2011

LOUISVILLE, Ky. University of Louisville researchers are one step closer to helping millions of people whose salivary glands no longer work because of disease or damage from treatment of diseases.

The scientific finding of Douglas Darling, PhD, professor, Department of Oral Health and Rehabilitation, UofL School of Dentistry, and his team identified a protein sorting mechanism used by the salivary gland. The National Institutes of Health supported study published on-line first this week in the Journal of Dental Research.

The scientific discovery could form the basis for advanced therapies for patients whose salivary glands are damaged or no longer function due to radiation therapy, prescription drugs or Sjogren's Syndrome an immune system disorder often defined by its two most common symptoms dry eyes and a dry mouth.

The salivary glands are essential for lubrication, defense and beginning digestion in the mouth. The largest of the salivary glands - the parotid - secretes important proteins into the saliva. As with all salivary glands, it has multiple secretion pathways, therefore it must sort proteins destined for saliva into the correct pathway for secretion. This can be tricky as there are seven possible pathways. One pathway takes proteins to the salivary duct, other pathways carry different proteins to the 'back' side of the cell to be secreted into the blood or to form a supportive matrix for the cells. Transport along these pathways occurs by sorting the proteins into vesicles (hollow membrane sacs) that carry their "cargo" to the correct destination.

Conventional thought was that cargo proteins are moved into the forming vesicles by attaching to sorting receptor proteins. Darling and his team have discovered a completely new approach, suggesting the reason no salivary sorting receptor protein has been found is that it may not exist.

In Darling's new model, the salivary cargo protein, Parotid
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Contact: Julie Heflin
julie.heflin@louisville.edu
502-852-7987
University of Louisville
Source:Eurekalert

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