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Dev Biol. 1991 Oct;147(2):322-33.

Expression of syndecan gene is induced early, is transient, and correlates with changes in mesenchymal cell proliferation during tooth organogenesis.

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Department of Pedodontics and Orthodontics, University of Helsinki, Finland.


Syndecan is an integral cell surface proteoglycan which contains an extracellular matrix-binding domain and a cytoskeleton-associated domain and may therefore transfer changes in the extracellular environment to cellular behavior. Changes in syndecan gene expression during embryonic and early postnatal mouse tooth development were analyzed by in situ hybridization and compared with the distribution of syndecan core protein and cell proliferation studied by immunohistochemistry. Syndecan RNA became accumulated in the condensing mesenchymal cells around the invaginating epithelial tooth bud during early development, and this accumulation became more intense when morphogenesis advanced to the cap stage. During the bell stage, when the cuspal pattern of the tooth is established, syndecan transcripts were lost, and RNA was not detected in the terminally differentiated or postmitotic odontoblasts. In the epithelium, syndecan RNA was intensely expressed in the invaginating epithelial bud, but the expression was reduced during the cap and bell stages. However, local stimulation in syndecan gene expression was observed in the epithelial preameloblasts immediately preceding their terminal differentiation into ameloblasts, which was accompanied by a complete loss of transcripts. There was a close correlation between the changes in syndecan transcripts and the distribution of syndecan core protein. Furthermore, analysis of cell proliferation by immunohistochemical detection of BrdU incorporation revealed that in the mesenchyme, but not in the epithelium, syndecan was intensely expressed by proliferating cells. The analysis of mRNA by Northern blot indicated that the transcripts in mesenchymal and epithelial cells were of similar size. In the slot-blot analysis the changes in syndecan transcripts correlated with the overall changes observed in the in situ hybridization analysis. The role of tissue interactions in the regulation of the syndecan gene was studied by using tissue recombination cultures of separated epithelial and mesenchymal components of the early tooth germ. The in situ hybridization and Northern blot analysis of these explants showed that the expression was increased in the mesenchyme cultured in contact with the epithelium. Our results indicate that syndecan gene expression in the embryonic tooth mesenchyme is induced by epithelial-mesenchymal interactions and thereafter expressed stage-dependently and transiently by the differentiating cells during organogenesis. The association of syndecan expression with mesenchymal cell proliferation raises the possibility that, in addition to behaving as a matrix receptor, syndecan may have a role in controlling growth and that syndecan may have different functions in epithelial and mesenchymal cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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