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J Anat. 2010 Jan;216(1):80-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7580.2009.01167.x. Epub 2009 Nov 9.

Dynamic expression of Six family genes in the dental mesenchyme and the epithelial ameloblast stem/progenitor cells during murine tooth development.

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Division of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, Tohoku University Graduate School of Dentistry, Sendai, Japan.


Six family transcription factor genes play multiple and crucial roles in the development of the vertebrate sensory system including the eye, olfactory epithelium and otic vesicle, and these genes are highly expressed in the neural crest-derived cranial mesenchymal cells in the mouse embryo. However, expression patterns have yet to be determined for the Six family genes in the developing tooth germ. In this study, we examined expression of six members of the Six family genes in the dental mesenchyme and the dental epithelium of the developing tooth germs in mice by in situ hybridization. We found dynamic expression patterns for Six1, Six2, Six4 and Six5 in the oral epithelium and mesenchymal cells with distinct expression patterns at the early stage before invagination of the dental epithelium. In addition, expression of Six1 and Six4 was observed in the inner enamel epithelium of the incisor and molar tooth germs at the cap stage. Expression of Six5 was maintained in the bell stage tooth germs, and intense expression of Six1 and Six4 was detected not only in the mesenchyme-derived dental follicle but also in the proliferating inner enamel epithelium of the labial cervical loop of the incisor tooth germ. Taken together, our results suggest that dynamic expression of Six family genes represents specific stages of the developing tooth germ. This dynamic expression is embodied in changes in both space and over time, and these changes in expression suggest that Six family genes may participate in tooth germ morphogenesis and the proliferation and/or differentiation of the incisor ameloblast stem/progenitor cells.

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