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Proc Biol Sci. 2009 Feb 22;276(1657):623-31. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2008.1364.

Spatial and temporal pattern for the dentition in the Australian lungfish revealed with sonic hedgehog expression profile.

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MRC Centre of Developmental Neurobiology, King's College London, London SE1 1UL, UK.


We report a temporal order of tooth addition in the Australian lungfish where timing of tooth induction is sequential in the same pattern as osteichthyans along the lower jaw. The order of tooth initiation in Neoceratodus starts from the midline tooth, together with left and right ones at jaw position 2, followed by 3 and then 1. This is the pattern order for dentary teeth of several teleosts and what we propose represents a stereotypic initiation pattern shared with all osteichthyans, including the living sister group to all tetrapods, the Australian lungfish. This is contrary to previous opinions that the lungfish dentition is otherwise derived and uniquely different. Sonic hedgehog (shh) expression is intensely focused on tooth positions at different times corresponding with their initiation order. This deployment of shh is required for lungfish tooth induction, as cyclopamine treatment results in complete loss of these teeth when applied before they develop. The temporal sequence of tooth initiation is possibly regulated by shh and is know to be required for dentition pattern in other osteichthyans, including cichlid fish and snakes. This reflects a shared developmental process with jawed vertebrates at the level of the tooth module but differs with the lack of replacement teeth.

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