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Dev Dyn. 2012 Sep;241(9):1465-72. doi: 10.1002/dvdy.23828. Epub 2012 Jul 24.

Distinct roles of microRNAs in epithelium and mesenchyme during tooth development.

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Craniofacial Development and Stem cell biology, and Biomedical Research Centre, Dental Institute, King's College London, Guy's Hospital, London Bridge, London, UK.



Tooth development is known to be mediated by the cross-talk between signaling pathways, including Shh, Fgf, Bmp, and Wnt. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are 19- to 25-nt noncoding small single-stranded RNAs that negatively regulate gene expression by binding target mRNAs, which is believed to be important for the fine-tuning signaling pathways in development. To investigate the role of miRNAs in tooth development, we examined mice with either mesenchymal (Wnt1Cre/Dicer(fl/fl)) or epithelial (ShhCre/Dicer(fl/fl)) conditional deletion of Dicer, which is essential for miRNA processing.


By using a CD1 genetic background for Wnt1Cre/Dicer(fl/fl), we were able to examine tooth development, because the mutants retained mandible and maxilla primordia. Wnt1Cre/Dicer(fl/fl) mice showed an arrest or absence of teeth development, which varied in frequency between incisors and molars. Extra incisor tooth formation was found in ShhCre/Dicer(fl/fl) mice, whereas molars showed no significant anomalies. Microarray and in situ hybridization analysis identified several miRNAs that showed differential expression between incisors and molars.


In tooth development, miRNAs thus play different roles in epithelium and mesenchyme, and in incisors and molars.

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