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Dev Biol. 2006 Sep 1;297(1):198-213. Epub 2006 May 24.

Bone morphogenetic proteins and noggin: inhibiting and inducing fungiform taste papilla development.

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Department of Biologic and Materials Sciences, Room 6217, School of Dentistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1078, USA.


Fungiform papillae are epithelial specializations that develop in a linear pattern on the anterior mammalian tongue and differentiate to eventually contain taste buds. Little is known about morphogenetic and pattern regulation of these crucial taste organs. We used embryonic rat tongue, organ cultures to test roles for bone morphogenetic proteins, BMP2, 4 and 7, and antagonists noggin and follistatin, in development of papillae from a stage before morphological initiation (E13) or from a stage after the pre-papilla placodes have formed (E14). BMPs and noggin proteins become progressively restricted to papilla locations during tongue development. In E13 cultures, exogenous BMPs or noggin induce increased numbers of fungiform papillae, in a concentration-dependent manner, compared to standard tongue cultures; BMPs, but not noggin, lead to a decreased tongue size at this stage. In E14 cultures, however, exogenous BMP2, 4 or 7 each inhibits papilla formation so that there is a decrease in papilla number. Noggin substantially increases number of papillae in E14 cultures. Using beads for a highly localized protein delivery, papillae are inhibited in the surround of BMP-soaked beads and induced in large clusters around noggin-soaked beads. Follistatin, presented in culture medium or by bead, does not alter papilla formation or number. In all fungiform papillae that form under various culture conditions, the molecular marker, sonic hedgehog, is within each papilla. However, the BMP inhibitory effect on papillae is not prevented by disrupting sonic hedgehog signaling through addition of cyclopamine to cultures. BMPs and noggin alter cell proliferation in tongue epithelium in opposite ways, demonstrated with Ki67 immunostaining. We propose that the BMPs and noggin, colocalized within papilla placodes and the fungiform papillae per se, have opposing inhibitory and activating or inducing roles in papilla development in linear patterns. We present a model for these effects.

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