Structural and functional features of the taste system change dramatically during development. While much has been learned by studying normal developmental processes, complementary experiments that use experimental manipulations during critical phases of development have been of great value in learning how the taste system is organized.
The specific aims of this proposal use coordinated neurophysiological, morphological and immunohistochemical studies to extend our earlier findings on the development of the gustatory system from receptor to central nervous system organization. Neurophysiological studies focus on the development of sodium taste transduction pathways and on the susceptibilities of different taste receptor cell populations and associated nerves to early dietary sodium restriction. Morphological studies examine potential mechanisms responsible for the development of neuron/target matching in taste buds and examine the interrelationship between gustatory afferent projections into the first central synaptic relay. Immunohistochemical experiments explore receptor cell differences in subunit complementation of channels used in sodium taste transduction and the role that early diet has on formation of the channel. The overall focus of this proposal, therefore, is on how the gustatory system is assembled after the initial functional and structural components are present. Proposed studies will provide new information about: 1) the nature of age- and diet-related neurophysiological changes, the site of response alterations, and biophysical changes in the transducing elements in taste receptor cells, 2) the manner by which taste bud size matches numbers of innervating neurons with age, and 3) the mechanisms underlying differential susceptibilities of lingual and palatal taste receptors and associated neurons to early dietary manipulations. Findings from these studies will provide further information about the development and plasticity of the peripheral and central gustatory system. They will also be useful in determining the role that diet has on organizing the developing sense of taste.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-IFCN-4 (01))
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Davis, Barry
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University of Virginia
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Collins, L N; Hill, D L; Brunjes, P C (2018) Myelination of the developing lateral olfactory tract and anterior commissure. J Comp Neurol 526:1843-1858
Sun, Chengsan; Krimm, Robin; Hill, David L (2018) Maintenance of Mouse Gustatory Terminal Field Organization is Dependent on BDNF at Adulthood. J Neurosci :
Sun, Chengsan; Hummler, Edith; Hill, David L (2017) Selective Deletion of Sodium Salt Taste during Development Leads to Expanded Terminal Fields of Gustatory Nerves in the Adult Mouse Nucleus of the Solitary Tract. J Neurosci 37:660-672
Skyberg, Rolf; Sun, Chengsan; Hill, David L (2017) Maintenance of Mouse Gustatory Terminal Field Organization Is Disrupted following Selective Removal of Peripheral Sodium Salt Taste Activity at Adulthood. J Neurosci 37:7619-7630
Dvoryanchikov, Gennady; Hernandez, Damian; Roebber, Jennifer K et al. (2017) Transcriptomes and neurotransmitter profiles of classes of gustatory and somatosensory neurons in the geniculate ganglion. Nat Commun 8:760
Meng, Lingbin; Huang, Tao; Sun, Chengsan et al. (2017) BDNF is required for taste axon regeneration following unilateral chorda tympani nerve section. Exp Neurol 293:27-42
Meng, Lingbin; Ohman-Gault, Lisa; Ma, Liqun et al. (2015) Taste Bud-Derived BDNF Is Required to Maintain Normal Amounts of Innervation to Adult Taste Buds. eNeuro 2:
Sun, Chengsan; Dayal, Arjun; Hill, David L (2015) Expanded terminal fields of gustatory nerves accompany embryonic BDNF overexpression in mouse oral epithelia. J Neurosci 35:409-21
Graham, Dustin M; Sun, Chengsan; Hill, David L (2014) Temporal signatures of taste quality driven by active sensing. J Neurosci 34:7398-411
Wang, Siting; Corson, James; Hill, David et al. (2012) Postnatal development of chorda tympani axons in the rat nucleus of the solitary tract. J Comp Neurol 520:3217-35

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