Taste buds, the taste sensory organs, are conserved in vertebrates and composed of distinct cell types, including taste receptor,
basal/presynaptic and support cells. Here, we characterize zebrafish taste bud development and show that compromised Fgf signaling
in the larva results in taste bud reduction and disorganization. We determine that Fgf activity is required within pharyngeal
endoderm for formation of Calb2b+ cells and reveal miR-200 and Delta-Notch signaling as key factors in this process. miR-200 knock down shows that miR-200
activity is required for taste bud formation and in particular for Calb2b+ cell formation. Compromised delta activity in mib–/– dramatically reduces the number of Calb2b+ cells and increases the number of 5HT+ cells. Conversely, larvae with increased Notch activity and ascl1a–/– mutants are devoid of 5HT+ cells, but have maintained and increased Calb2b+ cells, respectively. These results show that Delta-Notch signaling is required for intact taste bud organ formation. Consistent
with this, Notch activity restores Calb2b+ cell formation in pharyngeal endoderm with compromised Fgf signaling, but fails to restore the formation of these cells after
miR-200 knock down. Altogether, this study provides genetic evidence that supports a novel model where Fgf regulates Delta-Notch
signaling, and subsequently miR-200 activity, in order to promote taste bud cell type differentiation.