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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2011 Feb 18;405(3):455-61. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2011.01.052. Epub 2011 Jan 19.

The regulation of tooth morphogenesis is associated with epithelial cell proliferation and the expression of Sonic hedgehog through epithelial-mesenchymal interactions.

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Faculty of Industrial Science and Technology, Tokyo University of Science, Chiba 278-8510, Japan.


Ectodermal organs, such as the tooth, salivary gland, hair, and mammary gland, develop through reciprocal epithelial-mesenchymal interactions. Tooth morphologies are defined by the crown width and tooth length (macro-morphologies), and by the number and locations of the cusp and roots (micro-morphologies). In our current study, we report that the crown width of a bioengineered molar tooth, which was reconstructed using dissociated epithelial and mesenchymal cells via an organ germ method, can be regulated by the contact area between epithelial and mesenchymal cell layers. We further show that this is associated with cell proliferation and Sonic hedgehog (Shh) expression in the inner enamel epithelium after the germ stage has formed a secondary enamel knot. We also demonstrate that the cusp number is significantly correlated with the crown width of the bioengineered tooth. These findings suggest that the tooth micro-morphology, i.e. the cusp formation, is regulated after the tooth width, or macro-morphology, is determined. These findings also suggest that the spatiotemporal patterning of cell proliferation and the Shh expression areas in the epithelium regulate the crown width and cusp formation of the developing tooth.

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