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Arch Histol Cytol. 2006 Dec;69(4):199-208.

Development of fungiform papillae: patterned lingual gustatory organs.

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


The fungiform papilla is a gustatory organ that provides a specific tissue residence for taste buds on the anterior tongue. Thus, during development there must be a progressive differentiation to acquire papilla epithelium, then taste cell progenitor epithelium, and finally taste cells within the papilla apex. Arranged in rows, the patterned distribution of fungiform papillae requires molecular regulation not only to induce papillae, but also to suppress papilla formation in the between-papilla tissue. Intact sensory innervation is not required to initiate papilla development or pattern. However, members of several molecular families have now been identified with specific localization in developing papillae. These may participate in papilla development and pattern formation, and subsequently in taste progenitor and taste cell differentiation. This review focuses on development of fungiform papillae in embryonic rat and mouse. Basic morphology, cell biology and molecular phenotypes of developing papillae are reviewed. Regulatory roles for molecules in several families are presented, and a broad schema is proposed for progressive epithelial differentiation to form taste cell progenitors in parallel with the temporal course, and participation of lingual sensory innervation.

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