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Connect Tissue Res. 2003;44 Suppl 1:124-9.

Over- and ectopic expression of Wnt3 causes progressive loss of ameloblasts in postnatal mouse incisor teeth.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology and Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


Intercellular signaling is essential for the development of teeth during embryogenesis and in maintenance of the continuously growing incisor teeth in postnatal rodents. WNT intercellular signaling molecules have been implicated in the regulation of tooth development, and the Wnt3 gene shows specific expression in the enamel knot at the cap stage. We demonstrate here that Wnt3 also is expressed in specific epithelial cell layers in postnatal incisor teeth. To begin to delineate the functions of Wnt3 in developing and postnatal teeth, we determined the effects of over- and ectopic expression of Wnt3 in the tooth epithelium of mice carrying a keratin 14-Wnt3 transgene. Expression of the transgene caused a progressive loss of ameloblasts from postnatal lower incisor teeth. Loss of ameloblasts may be due to defective proliferation or differentiation of ameloblast precursors, progressive apoptosis of ameloblasts, or loss of ameloblast stem cells.

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