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J Dent Res. 2006 May;85(5):427-31.

Sonic hedgehog signaling is important in tooth root development.

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Section of Molecular Craniofacial Embryology, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Japan.


Hertwig's epithelial root sheath (HERS) is important for tooth root formation, but the molecular basis for the signaling of root development remains uncertain. We hypothesized that Sonic hedgehog (Shh) signaling is involved in the HERS function, because it mediates epithelial-mesenchymal interactions during embryonic odontogenesis. We examined the gene expression patterns of Shh signaling in murine developing molar roots. Shh and Patched2 transcripts were identified in the HERS, whereas Patched1, Smoothened, and Gli1 were expressed in the proliferative dental mesenchyme in addition to the HERS. To confirm whether Shh signaling physiologically functions in vivo, we analyzed mesenchymal dysplasia (mes) mice carrying an abnormal C-terminus of the PATCHED1 protein. In the mutant, cell proliferation was repressed around the HERS at 1 wk. Moreover, the molar eruption was disturbed, and all roots were shorter than those in control littermates at 4 wks. These results indicate that Shh signaling is important in tooth root development. Abbreviations used: BrdU, 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine; HERS, Hertwig's epithelial root sheath; NFI-C/CTF, nuclear factor Ic/CAAT box transcription factor; PCNA, proliferating cell nuclear antigen; Ptc, patched; Shh, sonic hedgehog; Smo, smoothened.

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