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Taste precursor cells, potential substitutes for pancreatic β cells in type 1 diabetes

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 — Poster Session III

10:00 a.m. – Noon

Natcher Conference Center



* FARE Award Winner


  • Z Chen
  • Z Liu
  • Y Shin
  • M Yuan
  • J Fiori
  • O Carlson
  • M Bernier
  • J Egan


Cell-based therapies represent a promising treatment option for curing type 1 diabetes.Here, we illustrated that taste precursor cells, which are of endodermal origin, may serve as a novel source for pancreatic β cells. We found that Pdx1, Ngn3 and MafA, crucial transcription factors for insulin production, exist in taste cells of mouse tongue. We isolated mouse taste precursor cells, and cultured the cells in vitro. These cells expressed Shh and Prox1, markers of taste precursor cells, and were further identified by flow cytometry using the Aldefluor reagent. Next, we differentiated taste precursor cells into β cells in vitro by manipulating signaling pathways. Interestingly, we found that the gene expressions of key β cell transcription factors increased by 20-fold, and insulin 1 and insulin 2 genes by 50- and 35-fold, respectively, as compared with control cells. Furthermore, immunofluorescent staining confirmed the presence of C-peptide in the differentiated cells, indicating the synthesis of endogenous insulin. In conclusion, we successfully differentiated the taste precursor cells into insulin-containing cells. The results of our current work shed a light on the possibility of using taste precursor cells to replace β cell function and may contribute to a cure for type 1 diabetes.

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