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J Comp Neurol. 1999 Apr 5;406(2):143-55.

Expression of sonic hedgehog, patched, and Gli1 in developing taste papillae of the mouse.

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Department of Cellular and Structural Biology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver 80262, USA.


Lingual taste buds form within taste papillae, which are specialized structures that develop in a characteristic spatial and temporal pattern. To investigate the signaling events responsible for patterning and morphogenesis of taste papillae, the authors examined the time course and distribution of expression of several related developmental signaling genes as well as the time course of innervation of taste papillae in mouse embryos from embryonic day 12 (E12) to E18. Lingual expression of the signaling molecule Sonic hedgehog (Shh), its receptor Patched (Ptc), and the Shh-activated transcription factor Gli1 were assayed by using in situ hybridization. Shh is expressed broadly in the lingual epithelium at E12 but becomes progressively restricted to developing circumvallate and fungiform papillary epithelia. Shh is expressed specifically within the central cells of the papillary epithelium starting at E13.5 and persisting through E18. Ptc and Gli1 expression follow a pattern similar to that of Shh. Compared with Shh, Ptc is expressed in larger regions surrounding the central papillary cells and also in the mesenchyme underlying Shh-expressing epithelium. Innervation of taste papillae was examined by using the panneuronal antibody to ubiquitin carboxyl terminal hydrolase (protein gene product 9.5). Nerves reach the basal lamina of developing taste papillae at E14 to densely innervate the papillary epithelium by E16. Thus, the pattern of Shh expression within developing taste papillae is established prior to innervation, ruling out neuronal induction of papillae. The results suggest that the Shh signaling pathway may be involved in: 1) establishing papillary boundaries in taste papilla morphogenesis, 2) papillary epithelial-mesenchymal interactions, and/or 3) specifying the location or development of taste buds within taste papillae.

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