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Development. 2015 Nov 1;142(21):3620-9. doi: 10.1242/dev.120394.

Progress and renewal in gustation: new insights into taste bud development.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Graduate Program in Cell Biology, Stem Cells and Development and the Rocky Mountain Taste and Smell Center, University of Colorado, School Medicine, Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO 80045, USA


The sense of taste, or gustation, is mediated by taste buds, which are housed in specialized taste papillae found in a stereotyped pattern on the surface of the tongue. Each bud, regardless of its location, is a collection of ∼100 cells that belong to at least five different functional classes, which transduce sweet, bitter, salt, sour and umami (the taste of glutamate) signals. Taste receptor cells harbor functional similarities to neurons but, like epithelial cells, are rapidly and continuously renewed throughout adult life. Here, I review recent advances in our understanding of how the pattern of taste buds is established in embryos and discuss the cellular and molecular mechanisms governing taste cell turnover. I also highlight how these findings aid our understanding of how and why many cancer therapies result in taste dysfunction.


Ageusia; Cell lineage; Chemotherapy; Dysgeusia; Gustatory system; Lingual organoids; Molecular genetics; Sonic hedgehog; Stem cells; Taste buds; Taste dysfunction; Wnt/β-catenin

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