We analyzed the differentiation of taste bud cells, by precisely describing expression profiles of cytokeratins (CKs) 8 and 14 in relation to those of marker molecules including label of 5-bromo-2′-deoxy uridine (BrdU) injected. In rat circumvallate papillae, cell division was observed at the basal layer of the epithelium expressing CK14 and located outside taste buds. The progenitor cells began to migrate toward the apical surface and maintained CK14 expression at 1 day after BrdU injection (day 1). On the other hand, a minor population of newly divided cells was infrequently incorporated into taste buds and also maintained CK14 expression at day 1. In taste buds, the conversion of CK subtypes occurred from CK14 to cytokeratin 8 (CK8) at day 2–3, showing the differentiation from immature cells expressing CK14 into mature or maturing cells expressing CK8. Functionally matured cells such as taste receptor cells expressing inositol triphospate receptor type 3 (IP3R3) never expressed CK14, suggesting that CK14 would be expressed only in immature cells. On the other hand, a small but distinct population of BrdU-positive cells still showed CK14 immunoreactivity in taste buds even at day 12, which might correspond to the cells that remain undifferentiated for a long period within taste buds.
Taste buds Cytokeratin 14 Epithelial cells
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We thank M. Park for critically reading this manuscript. This work was supported in part by a grant in-aid for scientific research from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology of Japan.
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