University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006
The function of Bmps and Runx2 in normal tooth development and in the pathogenesis of cleidocranial dysplasia
Doctoral dissertation, November 2006.
The development of many embryonic organs is regulated by reciprocal and sequential epithelial-mesenchymal interactions. These interactions are mediated by conserved signaling pathways that are reiteratively used.
Cleidocranial dysplasia (CCD) is a congenital syndrome where both bone and tooth development is affected. The syndrome is characterized by short stature, abnormal clavicles, general bone dysplasia, and supernumerary teeth. CCD is caused by mutations in RUNX2, a transcription factor that is a key regulator of osteoblast differentiation and bone formation.
The first aim of this study was to analyse the expression of a family of key signal molecules, Bone morphogenetic protein (Bmp) at different stages of tooth development. Bmps have a variety of functions and they were originally discovered as signals inducing ectopic bone formation. We performed a comparative in situ hybridisation analysis of the mRNA expression of Bmp2-7 from initiation of tooth development to differentiation of dental hard tissues. The expression patterns indicated that the Bmps signal between the epithelial and mesenchymal tissues during initiation and morphogenesis of tooth development, as well as during the differentiation of odontoblasts and ameloblasts. Furthermore, they are also part of the signalling networks whereby the enamel knot regulates the patterning of tooth cusps.
The second aim was to study the role of Runx2 during tooth development and thereby to gain better understanding of the pathogenesis of the tooth phenotype in CCD. We analysed the tooth phenotype of Runx2 knockout mice and examined the patterns and regulation of Runx2 gene expression.. The teeth of wild-type and Runx2 mutant mice were compared by several methods including in situ hybridisation, tissue culture, bead implantation experiments, and epithelial-mesenchymal recombination studies.
Phenotypic analysis of Runx2 -/- mutant tooth development showed that teeth failed to advance beyond the bud stage. Runx2 expression was restricted to dental mesenchyme between the bud and early bell stages of tooth development and it was regulated by epithelial signals, in particular Fgfs. We searched for downstream targets of Runx2 by comparative in situ hybridisation analysis. The expression of Fgf3 was downregulated in the mesenchyme of Runx2 -/- teeth. Shh expression was absent from the enamel knot in the lower molars of Runx2 -/- and reduced in the upper molars.
In conclusion, these studies showed that Runx2 regulates key epithelial-mesenchymal interactions that control advancing tooth morphogenesis and histodifferentiation of the epithelial enamel organ. In addition, in the upper molars of Runx2 mutants extra buddings occured at the palatal side of the tooth bud. We suggest that Runx2 acts as an inhibitor of successional tooth formation by preventing advancing development of the buds. Accordingly, we propose that RUNX2 haploinsuffiency in humans causes incomplete inhibition of successional tooth formation and as a result supernumerary teeth.
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Last updated 03.11.2006