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J Comp Neurol. 2003 Sep 8;464(1):49-61.

Notch-associated gene expression in embryonic and adult taste papillae and taste buds suggests a role in taste cell lineage decisions.

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Department of Cellular and Structural Biology and the Rocky Mountain Taste and Smell Center, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado 80262, USA.


The Notch signaling pathway is involved in cell fate decisions during development. To explore the role of this signaling cascade in the taste system, we investigated the expression patterns of Notch signaling genes in fetal and adult mouse tongues using in situ hybridization. Three of the four murine Notch receptors, their ligands, Delta-like 1 (Dll-1), Jagged1, and Jagged2, as well as three transcription factors, Hes1, Hes6, and Mash1, are expressed in the embryonic taste epithelium. Expression is first detected in the circumvallate papilla at embryonic day E14.5, when Notch1, Jagged1, and Jagged2 are expressed broadly in the papilla and general lingual epithelium. In contrast, Mash1 and Hes6 are restricted to only a few epithelial cells in the apical region of the developing papilla. By E18.5, many of the genes now exhibit a bimodal expression pattern in the papillary epithelium: apically and dorsally they are expressed in sparse clusters of cells, while more ventrally expression typically occurs throughout the lower regions of the trenches. The extent of papilla innervation was compared with Mash1 and Hes6 expression. At E14.5, when Hes6 and Mash1 are already expressed in small numbers of epithelial cells, PGP9.5 immunoreactive fibers have not yet invaded the epithelium, consistent with the specification of taste bud primordia prior to nerve contact. All of the genes examined (except Notch2) are also expressed in subsets of cells within circumvallate taste buds in adult mice, although Notch1 is restricted to basal cells adjacent to taste buds. The onset of embryonic Notch associated gene expression after the morphological differentiation of the circumvallate papilla argues that this signaling cascade may specify taste receptor cell lineages within an already specified taste papilla. Similarly, Notch gene expression in adult taste buds suggests continued roles in cell lineage determination and cell turnover.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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