Cell lineage mapping of taste bud cells and keratinocytes in the mouse tongue and soft palate

Stem Cells. 2009 Feb;27(2):442-50. doi: 10.1634/stemcells.2008-0611.


The epithelium of the mouse tongue and soft palate consists of at least three distinct epithelial cell populations: basal cells, keratinized cells organized into filiform and fungiform papillae, and taste receptor cells present in tight clusters known as taste buds in the fungiform and circumvallate papillae and soft palate. All three cell types develop from the simple epithelium of the embryonic tongue and palate, and are continually replaced in the adult by cell turnover. Previous studies using pulse-chase tritiated thymidine labeling in the adult mouse provided evidence for a high rate of cell turnover in the keratinocytes (5-7 days) and taste buds (10 days). However, little is known about the localization and phenotype of the long-term stem or progenitor cells that give rise to the mature taste bud cells and surrounding keratinocytes in these gustatory tissues. Here, we make use of a tamoxifen-inducible K14-CreER transgene and the ROSA26 LacZ reporter allele to lineage trace the mature keratinocytes and taste bud cells of the early postnatal and adult mouse tongue and soft palate. Our results support the hypothesis that both the pore keratinocytes and receptor cells of the taste bud are derived from a common K14(+)K5(+)Trp63(+)Sox2(+) population of bipotential progenitor cells located outside the taste bud. The results are also compatible with models in which the keratinocytes of the filiform and fungiform papillae are derived from basal progenitor cells localized at the base of these structures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / pharmacology
  • Cell Lineage / physiology*
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Keratin-14 / metabolism
  • Keratin-8 / metabolism
  • Keratinocytes / cytology*
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Palate, Soft / cytology*
  • Palate, Soft / metabolism
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism
  • SOXB1 Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Tamoxifen / pharmacology
  • Taste Buds / cytology*
  • Taste Buds / metabolism
  • Tongue / cytology*
  • Tongue / metabolism
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Keratin-14
  • Keratin-8
  • Phosphoproteins
  • SOXB1 Transcription Factors
  • Sox2 protein, mouse
  • Trans-Activators
  • Trp63 protein, mouse
  • Tamoxifen