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Monell scientists identify elusive taste stem cells
Date:2/3/2013

. The first was a strong signal underlying taste papillae at the back of the tongue and the second was a weaker signal immediately underneath taste buds in those papillae.

The Monell scientists hypothesize that the two levels of expression could indicate two different populations of cells. The cells that more strongly express Lgr5 could be true taste stem cells, whereas those with weaker expression could represent those stem cells that have begun the transformation into functional taste cells.

Additional studies revealed that the Lgr5-expressing cells were capable of becoming any one of the three major taste cell types.

The findings are published online in the journal Stem Cells.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg," said senior author Peihua Jiang, Ph.D., also a Monell molecular neurobiologist. "Identification of these cells opens up a whole new area for studying taste cell renewal, and contributes to stem cell biology in general."

Future studies will focus on identifying the factors that program the Lgr5-expressing cells to differentiate into the different taste cell types, and explore how to grow these cells in culture, thus providing a renewable source of taste receptor cells for research and perhaps even clinical use.


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Contact: Leslie Stein
stein@monell.org
267-519-4707
Monell Chemical Senses Center
Source:Eurekalert

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