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    Taste bud cells are specialized epithelial cells that undergo continuous turnover, and thus require active progenitors for their renewal and an intact taste function. Our previous studies suggested that a population of taste bud cells originates from outside of the surrounding tongue epithelium-previously regarded sole source of taste bud progenitors. In this study, we demonstrated that SOX10 (SRY-related HMG-box gene 10)-expressing cells, known to be in the migrating neural crest, were also distributed in taste bud-surrounding tissue compartments under the tongue epithelium, that is, the connective tissue core of taste papillae and von Ebner's glands. By lineage tracing of SOX10-expressing cells using SOX10-Cre, a Cre model driven by the endogenous SOX10 promoter, crossing with a Cre reporter line R26-tdTomato (tdT), we found SOX10-Cre-labeled tdT+ cells within taste buds in all three types of taste papillae (fungiform, circumvallate, and foliate) as well as in the soft palate in postnatal mice. The tdT+ taste bud cells were progressively more abundant along the developmental stages, from virtually zero at birth to over 35% in adults. Most of tdT+ taste bud cells had a low intensity of immunosignals of Keratin 8 (a widely used taste bud cell marker). In circumvallate taste buds, tdT signals were co-localized principally with a type III taste bud cell marker, less so with type I and II cell makers. Together, our data demonstrate a novel progenitor source for taste buds of postnatal mice-SOX10-Cre-labeled cells in the connective tissue core and/or von Ebner's glands.


    Wenxin Yu, Mohamed Ishan, Yao Yao, Steven L Stice, Hong-Xiang Liu. SOX10-Cre-Labeled Cells Under the Tongue Epithelium Serve as Progenitors for Taste Bud Cells That Are Mainly Type III and Keratin 8-Low. Stem cells and development. 2020 May 15;29(10):638-647

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    PMID: 32098606

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