The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 48: 157 - 161 (2004)

Vol 48, Issue 2-3

Special Issue: Skin Development

Spacing patterns on tongue surface-gustatory papilla

Published: 1 April 2004

Han-Sung Jung, Keiichi Akita and Jae-Young Kim

Division of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Department of Oral Biology, College of Dentistry, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea.


The dorsal surface of the mammalian tongue is covered with four kinds of papillae, fungiform, circumvallate, foliate and filiform papillae. With the exception of the filiform papillae, these types of papillae contain taste buds and are known as the gustatory papillae. The gustatory papillae are distributed over the tongue surface in a distinct spatial pattern. The circumvallate and foliate papillae are positioned in the central and lateral regions respectively and the fungiform papillae are distributed on the anterior part of the tongue in a stereotyped array. The patterned distribution and developmental processes of the fungiform papillae indicate some similarity between the fungiform papillae and the other epithelial appendages, including the teeth, feathers and hair. This is because 1) prior to the morphological changes, the signaling molecules are expressed in the fungiform papillae forming area with a stereotyped pattern; 2) the morphogenesis of the fungiform papillae showed specific structures in early development, such as epithelial thickening and mesenchymal condensation and 3) the fungiform papillae develop through reciprocal interactions between the epithelium and mesenchymal tissue. These results led us to examine whether or not the early organogenesis of the fungiform papillae is a good model system for understanding both the spacing pattern and the epithelial-mesenchymal interaction during embryogenesis.


embryonic development, epithelial appendage, fungiform papillae, gustatory papillae

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