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Dev Biol. 2012 Jun 15;366(2):244-54. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2012.03.018. Epub 2012 Apr 20.

Fate map of the dental mesenchyme: dynamic development of the dental papilla and follicle.

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  • 1Department of Craniofacial Development, King's College London, Floor 27 Guy's Tower, Guy's Hospital, London Bridge, SE1 9RT, London, UK.


At the bud stage of tooth development the neural crest derived mesenchyme condenses around the dental epithelium. As the tooth germ develops and proceeds to the cap stage, the epithelial cervical loops grow and appear to wrap around the condensed mesenchyme, enclosing the cells of the forming dental papilla. We have fate mapped the dental mesenchyme, using in vitro tissue culture combined with vital cell labelling and tissue grafting, and show that the dental mesenchyme is a much more dynamic population then previously suggested. At the bud stage the mesenchymal cells adjacent to the tip of the bud form both the dental papilla and dental follicle. At the early cap stage a small population of highly proliferative mesenchymal cells in close proximity to the inner dental epithelium and primary enamel knot provide the major contribution to the dental papilla. These cells are located between the cervical loops, within a region we have called the body of the enamel organ, and proliferate in concert with the epithelium to create the dental papilla. The condensed dental mesenchymal cells that are not located between the body of the enamel organ, and therefore are at a distance from the primary enamel knot, contribute to the dental follicle, and also the apical part of the papilla, where the roots will ultimately develop. Some cells in the presumptive dental papilla at the cap stage contribute to the follicle at the bell stage, indicating that the dental papilla and dental follicle are still not defined populations at this stage. These lineage-tracing experiments highlight the difficulty of targeting the papilla and presumptive odontoblasts at early stages of tooth development. We show that at the cap stage, cells destined to form the follicle are still competent to form dental papilla specific cell types, such as odontoblasts, and produce dentin, if placed in contact with the inner dental epithelium. Cell fate of the dental mesenchyme at this stage is therefore determined by the epithelium.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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