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Cells Tissues Organs. 2004;176(1-3):120-33.

New insight into progenitor/stem cells in dental pulp using Col1a1-GFP transgenes.

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Department of Pediatric Dentistry, School of Dental Medicine, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, Conn., USA.


In recent years there has been increasing progress in identifying stem cells from adult tissues and their potential application in tissue engineering. These advances provide a promising future for tooth replacement/regeneration. Essential for this approach is the identification of donor stem cells for various components of the teeth. Our studies show that pOBCol3.6GFPtpz and pOBCol2.3GFPemd transgenic animals provide a unique model to gain insight into stem cells in the dental pulp. Our in vivo studies of the developing teeth of these transgenic lines show both Col1a1-GFP transgenes are expressed in functional and fully differentiated odontoblasts. The patterns of expression of Col1a1-GFP transgenes during odontoblast differentiation correlates with the expression of DSPP. In the developing craniofacial bones both Col1a1-GFP transgenes are also expressed in osteoblasts and osteocytes of alveolar and calvarial bones. In the alveolar bones, the expression of Col1a1-GFP in osteocytes correlates with the expression of DMP1. Col1a1-3.6-GFP is expressed in the entire layer of the periosteum and in suture mesenchyme containing osteoprogenitor cells. On the other hand, Col1a1-2.3- GFP expression was limited to the osteoblastic layer of the periosteum and was not detected in the fibroblastic layer of the periosteum or in the suture mesenchyme. These observations indicate that Col1a1-3.6-GFP and Col1a1-2.3-GFP transgenes identify different subpopulations of cells during intramembranous ossification. By using the coronal portion of dental pulps isolated from postnatal transgenic mice our observations also provide direct evidence that the dental pulp contains progenitor/stem cells capable of giving rise to a new generation of odontoblast-like cells, as well as osteoblast-like cells.

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