?-Catenin Signaling Biases Multipotent Lingual Epithelial Progenitors to Differentiate and Acquire Specific Taste Cell Fates.
ABSTRACT: Continuous taste bud cell renewal is essential to maintain taste function in adults; however, the molecular mechanisms that regulate taste cell turnover are unknown. Using inducible Cre-lox technology, we show that activation of ?-catenin signaling in multipotent lingual epithelial progenitors outside of taste buds diverts daughter cells from a general epithelial to a taste bud fate. Moreover, while taste buds comprise 3 morphological types, ?-catenin activation drives overproduction of primarily glial-like Type I taste cells in both anterior fungiform (FF) and posterior circumvallate (CV) taste buds, with a small increase in Type II receptor cells for sweet, bitter and umami, but does not alter Type III sour detector cells. Beta-catenin activation in post-mitotic taste bud precursors likewise regulates cell differentiation; forced activation of ?-catenin in these Shh+ cells promotes Type I cell fate in both FF and CV taste buds, but likely does so non-cell autonomously. Our data are consistent with a model where ?-catenin signaling levels within lingual epithelial progenitors dictate cell fate prior to or during entry of new cells into taste buds; high signaling induces Type I cells, intermediate levels drive Type II cell differentiation, while low levels may drive differentiation of Type III cells.
Project description:The sense of taste is mediated by multicellular taste buds located within taste papillae on the tongue. In mice, individual taste buds reside in fungiform papillae, which develop at mid-gestation as epithelial placodes in the anterior tongue. Taste placodes comprise taste bud precursor cells, which express the secreted factor sonic hedgehog (Shh) and give rise to taste bud cells that differentiate around birth. We showed previously that epithelial activation of ?-catenin is the primary inductive signal for taste placode formation, followed by taste papilla morphogenesis and taste bud differentiation, but the degree to which these later elements were direct or indirect consequences of ?-catenin signaling was not explored. Here, we define discrete spatiotemporal functions of ?-catenin in fungiform taste bud development. Specifically, we show that early epithelial activation of ?-catenin, before taste placodes form, diverts lingual epithelial cells from a taste bud fate. By contrast, ?-catenin activation a day later within Shh(+) placodes, expands taste bud precursors directly, but enlarges papillae indirectly. Further, placodal activation of ?-catenin drives precocious differentiation of Type I glial-like taste cells, but not other taste cell types. Later activation of ?-catenin within Shh(+) precursors during papilla morphogenesis also expands taste bud precursors and accelerates Type I cell differentiation, but papilla size is no longer enhanced. Finally, although Shh regulates taste placode patterning, we find that it is dispensable for the accelerated Type I cell differentiation induced by ?-catenin.
Project description:Taste buds are assemblies of elongated epithelial cells, which are innervated by gustatory nerves that transmit taste information to the brain stem. Taste cells are continuously renewed throughout life via proliferation of epithelial progenitors, but the molecular regulation of this process remains unknown. During embryogenesis, sonic hedgehog (SHH) negatively regulates taste bud patterning, such that inhibition of SHH causes the formation of more and larger taste bud primordia, including in regions of the tongue normally devoid of taste buds. Here, using a Cre-lox system to drive constitutive expression of SHH, we identify the effects of SHH on the lingual epithelium of adult mice. We show that misexpression of SHH transforms lingual epithelial cell fate, such that daughter cells of lingual epithelial progenitors form cell type-replete, onion-shaped taste buds, rather than non-taste, pseudostratified epithelium. These SHH-induced ectopic taste buds are found in regions of the adult tongue previously thought incapable of generating taste organs. The ectopic buds are composed of all taste cell types, including support cells and detectors of sweet, bitter, umami, salt and sour, and recapitulate the molecular differentiation process of endogenous taste buds. In contrast to the well-established nerve dependence of endogenous taste buds, however, ectopic taste buds form independently of both gustatory and somatosensory innervation. As innervation is required for SHH expression by endogenous taste buds, our data suggest that SHH can replace the need for innervation to drive the entire program of taste bud differentiation.
Project description:Taste buds, the sensory organs for taste, have been described as arising solely from the surrounding epithelium, which is in distinction from other sensory receptors that are known to originate from neural precursors, i.e., neural ectoderm that includes neural crest (NC). Our previous study suggested a potential contribution of NC derived cells to early immature fungiform taste buds in late embryonic (E18.5) and young postnatal (P1-10) mice. In the present study we demonstrated the contribution of the underlying connective tissue (CT) to mature taste buds in mouse tongue and soft palate. Three independent mouse models were used for fate mapping of NC and NC derived connective tissue cells: (1) P0-Cre/R26-tdTomato (RFP) to label NC, NC derived Schwann cells and derivatives; (2) Dermo1-Cre/RFP to label mesenchymal cells and derivatives; and (3) Vimentin-CreER/mGFP to label Vimentin-expressing CT cells and derivatives upon tamoxifen treatment. Both P0-Cre/RFP and Dermo1-Cre/RFP labeled cells were abundant in mature taste buds in lingual taste papillae and soft palate, but not in the surrounding epithelial cells. Concurrently, labeled cells were extensively distributed in the underlying CT. RFP signals were seen in the majority of taste buds and all three types (I, II, III) of differentiated taste bud cells, with the neuronal-like type III cells labeled at a greater proportion. Further, Vimentin-CreER labeled cells were found in the taste buds of 3-month-old mice whereas Vimentin immunoreactivity was only seen in the CT. Taken together, our data demonstrate a previously unrecognized origin of taste bud cells from the underlying CT, a conceptually new finding in our knowledge of taste bud cell derivation, i.e., from both the surrounding epithelium and the underlying CT that is primarily derived from NC.
Project description:The interaction between signaling pathways is a central question in the study of organogenesis. Using the developing murine tongue as a model, we uncovered unknown relationships between Sonic hedgehog (SHH) and retinoic acid (RA) signaling. Genetic loss of SHH signaling leads to enhanced RA activity subsequent to loss of SHH-dependent expression of Cyp26a1 and Cyp26c1. This causes a cell identity switch, prompting the epithelium of the tongue to form heterotopic minor salivary glands and to overproduce oversized taste buds. At developmental stages during which Wnt10b expression normally ceases and Shh becomes confined to taste bud cells, loss of SHH inputs causes the lingual epithelium to undergo an ectopic and anachronic expression of Shh and Wnt10b in the basal layer, specifying de novo taste placode induction. Surprisingly, in the absence of SHH signaling, lingual epithelial cells adopted a Merkel cell fate, but this was not caused by enhanced RA signaling. We show that RA promotes, whereas SHH, acting strictly within the lingual epithelium, inhibits taste placode and lingual gland formation by thwarting RA activity. These findings reveal key functions for SHH and RA in cell fate specification in the lingual epithelium and aid in deciphering the molecular mechanisms that assign cell identity.
Project description:Adult tongue epithelium is continuously renewed from epithelial progenitor cells, a process that requires hedgehog (HH) signaling. In mice, pharmacological inhibition of the HH pathway causes taste bud loss within a few weeks. Previously, we demonstrated that sonic hedgehog (SHH) overexpression in lingual progenitors induces ectopic taste buds with locally increased SOX2 expression, suggesting that taste bud differentiation depends on SOX2 downstream of HH. To test this, we inhibited HH signaling in mice and observed a rapid decline in Sox2 and SOX2-GFP expression in taste epithelium. Upon conditional deletion of Sox2, differentiation of both taste and non-taste epithelial cells was blocked, and progenitor cell number increased. In contrast to basally restricted proliferation in controls, dividing cells were overabundant and spread to suprabasal epithelial layers in mutants. SOX2 loss in progenitors also led non-cell-autonomously to taste cell apoptosis, dramatically shortening taste cell lifespans. Finally, in tongues with conditional Sox2 deletion and SHH overexpression, ectopic and endogenous taste buds were not detectable; instead, progenitor hyperproliferation expanded throughout the lingual epithelium. In summary, we show that SOX2 functions downstream of HH signaling to regulate lingual epithelium homeostasis.
Project description:Background: Multicellular taste buds located within taste papillae on the tongue mediate taste sensation. In taste papillae, taste bud cells (TBCs), such as taste receptor cells and taste precursor cells, and the surrounding lingual epithelium including epithelial progenitors (also called taste stem/progenitor cells) are maintained by continuous cell turnover throughout life. However, it remains unknown how the cells constituting taste buds proliferate and differentiate to maintain taste bud tissue. Based on in situ hybridization (ISH) screening, we demonstrated that the oncofetal antigen 5T4 (also known as trophoblast glycoprotein: TPBG) gene is expressed in the adult mouse tongue. Results: In immunohistochemistry of coronal tongue sections, 5T4 protein was detected at a low level exclusively in the basal part of the lingual epithelium in developing and adult mice, and at a high level particularly in foliate papillae and circumvallate papillae (CVPs). Furthermore, immunohistochemistry of the basal part of CVPs indicated that the proliferation marker PCNA (proliferating cell nuclear antigen) co-localized with 5T4. 5T4 was strongly expressed in Krt5+ epithelial progenitors and Shh+ taste precursor cells, but weakly in mature taste receptor cells. The number of proliferating cells in the CVP was higher in 5T4-knockout mice than in wild-type (WT) mice, while neither cell differentiation nor the size of taste buds differed between these two groups of mice. Notably, X-ray irradiation enhanced cell proliferation more in 5T4-knockout mice than in WT mice. Conclusion: Our results suggest that 5T4, expressed in epithelial progenitors (taste stem/progenitor cells), and taste precursor cells, may influence the maintenance of taste papillae under both normal and injury conditions.
Project description:Patients with viral and bacterial infections or other inflammatory illnesses often experience taste dysfunctions. The agents responsible for these taste disorders are thought to be related to infection-induced inflammation, but the mechanisms are not known. As a first step in characterizing the possible role of inflammation in taste disorders, we report here evidence for the presence of interferon (IFN)-mediated signaling pathways in taste bud cells. IFN receptors, particularly the IFN-gamma receptor IFNGR1, are coexpressed with the taste cell-type markers neuronal cell adhesion molecule and alpha-gustducin, suggesting that both the taste receptor cells and synapse-forming cells in the taste bud can be stimulated by IFN. Incubation of taste bud-containing lingual epithelia with recombinant IFN-alpha and IFN-gamma triggered the IFN-mediated signaling cascades, resulting in the phosphorylation of the downstream STAT1 (signal transducer and activator of transcription protein 1) transcription factor. Intraperitoneal injection of lipopolysaccharide or polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid into mice, mimicking bacterial and viral infections, respectively, altered gene expression patterns in taste bud cells. Furthermore, the systemic administration of either IFN-alpha or IFN-gamma significantly increased the number of taste bud cells undergoing programmed cell death. These findings suggest that bacterial and viral infection-induced IFNs can act directly on taste bud cells, affecting their cellular function in taste transduction, and that IFN-induced apoptosis in taste buds may cause abnormal cell turnover and skew the representation of different taste bud cell types, leading to the development of taste disorders. To our knowledge, this is the first study providing direct evidence that inflammation can affect taste buds through cytokine signaling pathways.
Project description:Taste disorders, including taste distortion and taste loss, negatively impact general health and quality of life. To understand the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms, we set out to identify inflammation-related molecules in taste tissue and to assess their role in the development of taste dysfunctions. We found that 10 out of 12 mammalian Toll-like receptors (TLRs), type I and II interferon (IFN) receptors, and their downstream signaling components are present in taste tissue. Some TLRs appear to be selectively or more abundantly expressed in taste buds than in nongustatory lingual epithelium. Immunohistochemistry with antibodies against TLRs 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7 confirmed the presence of these receptor proteins in taste bud cells, of which TLRs 2, 3, and 4 are expressed in the gustducin-expressing type II taste bud cells. Administration of TLR ligands, lipopolysaccharide, and double-stranded RNA polyinosinic:polycytidylic acid, which mimics bacterial or viral infection, activates the IFN signaling pathways, upregulates the expression of IFN-inducible genes, and downregulates the expression of c-fos in taste buds. Finally, systemic administration of IFNs augments apoptosis of taste bud cells in mice. Taken together, these data suggest that TLR and IFN pathways function collaboratively in recognizing pathogens and mediating inflammatory responses in taste tissue. This process, however, may interfere with normal taste transduction and taste bud cell turnover and contributes to the development of taste disorders.
Project description:We and others have reported that taste cells in taste buds express many peptides in common with cells in the gut and islets of Langerhans in the pancreas. Islets and taste bud cells express the hormones glucagon and ghrelin, the same ATP-sensitive potassium channel responsible for depolarizing the insulin-secreting ? cell during glucose-induced insulin secretion, as well as the propeptide-processing enzymes PC1/3 and PC2. Given the common expression of functionally specific proteins in taste buds and islets, it is surprising that no one has investigated whether insulin is synthesized in taste bud cells. Using immunofluorescence, we demonstrated the presence of insulin in mouse, rat, and human taste bud cells. By detecting the postprocessing insulin molecule C-peptide and green fluorescence protein (GFP) in taste cells of both insulin 1-GFP and insulin 2-GFP mice and the presence of the mouse insulin transcript by in situ hybridization, we further proved that insulin is synthesized in individual taste buds and not taken up from the parenchyma. In addition to our cytology data, we measured the level of insulin transcript by quantitative RT-PCR in the anterior and posterior lingual epithelia. These analyses showed that insulin is translated in the circumvallate and foliate papillae in the posterior, but only insulin transcript was detected in the anterior fungiform papillae of the rodent tongue. Thus, some taste cells are insulin-synthesizing cells generated from a continually replenished source of precursor cells in the adult mammalian lingual epithelium.
Project description:Mammalian taste buds use ATP as a neurotransmitter. Taste Receptor (type II) cells secrete ATP via gap junction hemichannels into the narrow extracellular spaces within a taste bud. This ATP excites primary sensory afferent fibers and also stimulates neighboring taste bud cells. Here we show that extracellular ATP is enzymatically degraded to adenosine within mouse vallate taste buds and that this nucleoside acts as an autocrine neuromodulator to selectively enhance sweet taste. In Receptor cells in a lingual slice preparation, Ca(2+) mobilization evoked by focally applied artificial sweeteners was significantly enhanced by adenosine (50 ?M). Adenosine had no effect on bitter or umami taste responses, and the nucleoside did not affect Presynaptic (type III) taste cells. We also used biosensor cells to measure transmitter release from isolated taste buds. Adenosine (5 ?M) enhanced ATP release evoked by sweet but not bitter taste stimuli. Using single-cell reverse transcriptase (RT)-PCR on isolated vallate taste cells, we show that many Receptor cells express the adenosine receptor, Adora2b, while Presynaptic (type III) and Glial-like (type I) cells seldom do. Furthermore, Adora2b receptors are significantly associated with expression of the sweet taste receptor subunit, Tas1r2. Adenosine is generated during taste stimulation mainly by the action of the ecto-5'-nucleotidase, NT5E, and to a lesser extent, prostatic acid phosphatase. Both these ecto-nucleotidases are expressed by Presynaptic cells, as shown by single-cell RT-PCR, enzyme histochemistry, and immunofluorescence. Our findings suggest that ATP released during taste reception is degraded to adenosine to exert positive modulation particularly on sweet taste.