An epithelial signalling centre in sharks supports homology of tooth morphogenesis in vertebrates.
ABSTRACT: Development of tooth shape is regulated by the enamel knot signalling centre, at least in mammals. Fgf signalling regulates differential proliferation between the enamel knot and adjacent dental epithelia during tooth development, leading to formation of the dental cusp. The presence of an enamel knot in non-mammalian vertebrates is debated given differences in signalling. Here, we show the conservation and restriction of fgf3, fgf10, and shh to the sites of future dental cusps in the shark (Scyliorhinus canicula), whilst also highlighting striking differences between the shark and mouse. We reveal shifts in tooth size, shape, and cusp number following small molecule perturbations of canonical Wnt signalling. Resulting tooth phenotypes mirror observed effects in mammals, where canonical Wnt has been implicated as an upstream regulator of enamel knot signalling. In silico modelling of shark dental morphogenesis demonstrates how subtle changes in activatory and inhibitory signals can alter tooth shape, resembling developmental phenotypes and cusp shapes observed following experimental Wnt perturbation. Our results support the functional conservation of an enamel knot-like signalling centre throughout vertebrates and suggest that varied tooth types from sharks to mammals follow a similar developmental bauplan. Lineage-specific differences in signalling are not sufficient in refuting homology of this signalling centre, which is likely older than teeth themselves.
Project description:The canonical Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway has been shown to play essential roles in tooth initiation and early tooth development. However, the role of Wnt/β-catenin signaling in cusp patterning and crown calcification in large mammals are largely unknown. In our previous study, miniature pigs were used as the animal model due to the similarity of tooth anatomy and replacement pattern between miniature pig and human. Dynamic gene expression of third deciduous molar (DM3) in miniature pig at early stages was profiled using microarray method and expression of Wnt genes was significantly correlate with odontogenesis. In the present study, dynamic expression patterns of Wnt/β-catenin signaling genes of DM3 at cap, early bell and late bell (secretory) stage were identified. We found that <i>Lef1</i> and <i>Axin2</i> were expressed in the enamel knot and underlying mesenchyme regions. Meanwhile, <i>Dkk1</i> was expressed in the peripheral and lower parts of dental papilla, thus forming the potential Wnt signaling gradient. We also found that <i>β-Catenin</i>, <i>Axin2</i> and <i>Lef1</i> were expressed strongly in undifferentiated cells of the inner enamel epithelium (IEE), but weakly in differentiated ameloblasts. Furthermore, we found that both Wnt signaling read-out gene <i>Lef1</i> and the inhibitor <i>Dkk1</i> were co-expressed in the pre-odontoblasts. In conclusion, the spatiotemporal distribution and potential gradient of Wnt signaling may contribute to cusp patterning and crown calcification. These data may yield insight into future study of precise control of crown morphogenesis and regeneration in large mammals.
Project description:Tooth morphogenesis is initiated by reciprocal interactions between the ectoderm and neural crest-derived mesenchyme. During tooth development, tooth cusps are regulated by precise control of proliferation of cell clusters, termed enamel knots, that are present among dental epithelial cells. The interaction of ectodysplasin-A (EDA) with its receptor, EDAR, plays a critical role in cusp formation by these enamel knots, and mutations of these genes is a cause of ectodermal dysplasia. It has also been reported that deficiency in Nkx2-3, encoding a member of the NK2 homeobox family of transcription factors, leads to cusp absence in affected teeth. However, the molecular role of NKX2-3 in tooth morphogenesis is not clearly understood. Using gene microarray analysis in mouse embryos, we found that Nkx2-3 is highly expressed during tooth development and increased during the tooth morphogenesis, especially during cusp formation. We also demonstrate that NKX2-3 is a target molecule of EDA and critical for expression of the cell cycle regulator p21 in the enamel knot. Moreover, NKX2-3 activated the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling pathway by up-regulating expression levels of Bmp2 and Bmpr2 in dental epithelium and decreased the expression of the dental epithelial stem cell marker SRY box 2 (SOX2). Together, our results indicate that EDA/NKX2-3 signaling is essential for enamel knot formation during tooth morphogenesis in mice.
Project description:Development has often been viewed as a constraining force on morphological adaptation, but its precise influence, especially on evolutionary rates, is poorly understood. Placental mammals provide a classic example of adaptive radiation, but the debate around rate and drivers of early placental evolution remains contentious. A hallmark of early dental evolution in many placental lineages was a transition from a triangular upper molar to a more complex upper molar with a rectangular cusp pattern better specialized for crushing. To examine how development influenced this transition, we simulated dental evolution on "landscapes" built from different parameters of a computational model of tooth morphogenesis. Among the parameters examined, we find that increases in the number of enamel knots, the developmental precursors of the tooth cusps, were primarily influenced by increased self-regulation of the molecular activator (activation), whereas the pattern of knots resulted from changes in both activation and biases in tooth bud growth. In simulations, increased activation facilitated accelerated evolutionary increases in knot number, creating a lateral knot arrangement that evolved at least ten times on placental upper molars. Relatively small increases in activation, superimposed on an ancestral tritubercular molar growth pattern, could recreate key changes leading to a rectangular upper molar cusp pattern. Tinkering with tooth bud geometry varied the way cusps initiated along the posterolingual molar margin, suggesting that small spatial variations in ancestral molar growth may have influenced how placental lineages acquired a hypocone cusp. We suggest that development could have enabled relatively fast higher-level divergence of the placental molar dentition.
Project description:Embryonic signalling centres are specialized clusters of non-proliferating cells that direct the development of many organs. However, the mechanisms that establish these essential structures in mammals are not well understood. Here we report, using the murine incisor as a model, that ?E-catenin is essential for inhibiting nuclear YAP localization and cell proliferation. This function of ?E-catenin is required for formation of the tooth signalling centre, the enamel knot (EK), which maintains dental mesenchymal condensation and epithelial invagination. EK formation depends primarily on the signalling function of ?E-catenin through YAP and its homologue TAZ, as opposed to its adhesive function, and combined deletion of Yap and Taz rescues the EK defects caused by loss of ?E-catenin. These findings point to a developmental mechanism by which ?E-catenin restricts YAP/TAZ activity to establish a group of non-dividing and specialized cells that constitute a signalling centre.
Project description:The single replacement from milk teeth to permanent teeth makes mammalian teeth different from teeth of most nonmammalian vertebrates and other epithelial organs such as hair and feathers, whose continuous replacement has been linked to Wnt signaling. Here we show that mouse tooth buds expressing stabilized beta-catenin in epithelium give rise to dozens of teeth. The molar crowns, however, are typically simplified unicusped cones. We demonstrate that the supernumerary teeth develop by a renewal process where new signaling centers, the enamel knots, bud off from the existing dental epithelium. The basic aspects of the unlocked tooth renewal can be reproduced with a computer model on tooth development by increasing the intrinsic level of activator production, supporting the role of beta-catenin pathway as an upstream activator of enamel knot formation. These results may implicate Wnt signaling in tooth renewal, a capacity that was all but lost when mammals evolved progressively more complicated tooth shapes.
Project description:Regenerative therapy to replace missing teeth is a critical area of research. Functional bioengineered teeth have been produced by the organ germ method using mouse tooth germ cells. However, these bioengineered teeth are significantly smaller in size and exhibit an abnormal crown shape when compared with natural teeth. The proper sizes and shapes of teeth contribute to their normal function. Therefore, a method is needed to control the morphology of bioengineered teeth. Here, we investigated whether insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) can regulate the sizes and shapes of bioengineered teeth, and assessed underlying mechanisms of such regulation. IGF1 treatment significantly increased the size of bioengineered tooth germs, while preserving normal tooth histology. IGF1-treated bioengineered teeth, which were developed from bioengineered tooth germs in subrenal capsules and jawbones, showed increased sizes and cusp numbers. IGF1 increased the number of fibroblast growth factor (Fgf4)-expressing enamel knots in bioengineered tooth germs and enhanced the proliferation and differentiation of dental epithelial and mesenchymal cells. This study is the first to reveal that IGF1 increases the sizes and cusp numbers of bioengineered teeth via the induction of enamel knot formation, as well as the proliferation and differentiation of dental epithelial and mesenchymal cells.
Project description:Wnt/beta-catenin signaling plays key roles in tooth development, but how this pathway intersects with the complex interplay of signaling factors regulating dental morphogenesis has been unclear. We demonstrate that Wnt/beta-catenin signaling is active at multiple stages of tooth development. Mutation of beta-catenin to a constitutively active form in oral epithelium causes formation of large, misshapen tooth buds and ectopic teeth, and expanded expression of signaling molecules important for tooth development. Conversely, expression of key morphogenetic regulators including Bmp4, Msx1, and Msx2 is downregulated in embryos expressing the secreted Wnt inhibitor Dkk1 which blocks signaling in epithelial and underlying mesenchymal cells. Similar phenotypes are observed in embryos lacking epithelial beta-catenin, demonstrating a requirement for Wnt signaling within the epithelium. Inducible Dkk1 expression after the bud stage causes formation of blunted molar cusps, downregulation of the enamel knot marker p21, and loss of restricted ectodin expression, revealing requirements for Wnt activity in maintaining secondary enamel knots. These data place Wnt/beta-catenin signaling upstream of key morphogenetic signaling pathways at multiple stages of tooth development and indicate that tight regulation of this pathway is essential both for patterning tooth development in the dental lamina, and for controlling the shape of individual teeth.
Project description:The gene regulatory network involved in tooth morphogenesis has been extremely well described in mammals and its modeling has allowed predictions of variations in regulatory pathway that may have led to evolution of tooth shapes. However, very little is known outside of mammals to understand how this regulatory framework may also account for tooth shape evolution at the level of gnathostomes. In this work, we describe expression patterns and proliferation/apoptosis assays to uncover homologous regulatory pathways in the catshark Scyliorhinus canicula.Because of their similar structural and developmental features, gene expression patterns were described over the four developmental stages of both tooth and scale buds in the catshark. These gene expression patterns differ from mouse tooth development, and discrepancies are also observed between tooth and scale development within the catshark. However, a similar nested expression of Shh and Fgf suggests similar signaling involved in morphogenesis of all structures, although apoptosis assays do not support a strictly equivalent enamel knot system in sharks. Similarities in the topology of gene expression pattern, including Bmp signaling pathway, suggest that mouse molar development is more similar to scale bud development in the catshark.These results support the fact that no enamel knot, as described in mammalian teeth, can be described in the morphogenesis of shark teeth or scales. However, homologous signaling pathways are involved in growth and morphogenesis with variations in their respective expression patterns. We speculate that variations in this topology of expression are also a substrate for tooth shape evolution, notably in regulating the growth axis and symmetry of the developing structure.
Project description:The Notch signalling pathway is an evolutionarily conserved intercellular signalling mechanism that is essential for cell fate specification and proper embryonic development. We have analysed the expression, regulation and function of the jagged 2 (Jag2) gene, which encodes a ligand for the Notch family of receptors, in developing mouse teeth. Jag2 is expressed in epithelial cells that give rise to the enamel-producing ameloblasts from the earliest stages of tooth development. Tissue recombination experiments showed that its expression in epithelium is regulated by mesenchyme-derived signals. In dental explants cultured in vitro, the local application of fibroblast growth factors upregulated Jag2 expression, whereas bone morphogenetic proteins provoked the opposite effect. Mice homozygous for a deletion in the Notch-interaction domain of Jag2 presented a variety of severe dental abnormalities. In molars, the crown morphology was misshapen, with additional cusps being formed. This was due to alterations in the enamel knot, an epithelial signalling structure involved in molar crown morphogenesis, in which Bmp4 expression and apoptosis were altered. In incisors, cytodifferentiation and enamel matrix deposition were inhibited. The expression of Tbx1 in ameloblast progenitors, which is a hallmark for ameloblast differentiation and enamel formation, was dramatically reduced in Jag2(-/-) teeth. Together, these results demonstrate that Notch signalling mediated by Jag2 is indispensable for normal tooth development.
Project description:The early evolution of mammals is associated with the linked evolutionary origin of diphyodont tooth replacement, rapid juvenile growth and determinate adult growth. However, specific relationships among these characters during non-mammalian cynodont evolution require further exploration. Here, polarized light microscopy revealed incremental lines, resembling daily laminations of extant mammals, in histological sections of enamel in eight non-mammalian cynodont species. In the more basal non-probainognathian group, enamel extends extremely rapidly from cusp to cervix. By contrast, the enamel of mammaliamorphs is gradually accreted, with slow rates of crown extension, more typical of the majority of non-hypsodont crown mammals. These results are consistent with the reduction in dental replacement rate across the non-mammalian cynodont lineage, with greater rates of crown extension required in most non-probainognathians, and slower crown extension rates permitted in mammaliamorphs, which have reduced patterns of dental replacement in comparison with many non-probainognathians. The evolution of mammal-like growth patterns, with faster juvenile growth and more abruptly terminating adult growth, is linked with this reduction in dental replacement rates and may provide an additional explanation for the observed pattern in enamel growth rates. It is possible that the reduction in enamel extension rates in mammaliamorphs reflects an underlying reduction in skeletal growth rates at the time of postcanine formation, due to a more abruptly terminating pattern of adult growth in these more mammal-like, crownward species.