Several physiological parameters were examined for inducing acinar cell proliferation and corresponding increased expression of beta 1-4 galactosyltransferase. In this study, dietary changes causing acinar cell proliferation included the following: the introduction of animals to a liquid diet (causing gland atrophy) followed by re-introduction of solid chow, gustatory stimulation provided by the introduction of 0.5% citric acid to animal drinking water, and removal of the submandibular gland with subsequent reliance on the parotid gland for saliva protein and fluid. Alterations in growth factor levels were produced by injecting animals with a chronic (three-day) regimen of either nerve growth factor (NGF) or epidermal growth factor (EGF). In all cases of acinar cell proliferation in vivo, generated by the above treatments, cell-surface galactosyltransferase was detected along with the unique expression of a 4.5-kb proliferation-associated mRNA. Parotid gland proliferation could be blocked in all cases by the injection of the galactosyltransferase specific modifier protein, alpha-lactalbumin. Propranolol, a beta-adrenergic receptor antagonist, blocked proliferation in all cases except EGF treatment. EGF-induced proliferation could, however, be prevented if the animals were treated with monoclonal antibody to EGF receptor or with the galactosyltransferase modifier alpha-lactalbumin. As a comparison, human parotid tissue samples obtained from neoplastic pleomorphic adenomas, muco-epidermoid carcinoma, adenoid cystic carcinoma, and a bulimia patient were analyzed for galactosyltransferase expression by Northern blot of mRNA and plasma membrane isolation. Elevated levels of galactosyltransferase were found in all neoplastic tissue preparations as well as in the bulimia sample. Amylase synthesis was reduced in samples compared with surrounding normal tissue from the same patient. In vitro cell culturing of pleomorphic adenoma cells in the presence of galactosyltransferase modifier alpha-lactalbumin and substrate UDP-galactose inhibited proliferation in a dose-dependent fashion. Southern blot analysis of DNA from neoplastic parotid cells showed an alteration in chromosomal gene structure for the galactosyltransferase activator cDNA from the adenoid cystic carcinoma. These results for induced acinar cell proliferation as well as human neoplastic pathologies suggest a direct role for cell surface beta 1-4 galactosyltransferase in signaling growth. Furthermore, the proliferation-associated activity of galactosyltransferase suggests that it may be considered as a new type of cell growth regulator.
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