, Volume 197, Issue 6, pp 469-475

Expression of E- and P-cadherin during tooth morphogenesis and cytodifferentiation of ameloblasts

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 Cell-cell adhesion is fundamental in morphogenesis and is known to be mediated by several groups of cell adhesion molecules. Cadherins are a group of such molecules involved in the Ca2+-dependent cell-cell adhesion mechanism and are found in most kinds of tissue. In this study using indirect immunofluorescence microscopy, we analyzed the distribution of two kinds of cadherins, E- and P-cadherin, in developing tooth germs. In the molar tooth germs at the early bud stage, marginal cells of the epithelial tooth bud expressed both E- and P-cadherin, whereas central cells expressed only E-cadherin. At the cap stage, in addition to the cells of the inner and outer enamel epithelium, which outline the enamal organ, cells of the enamel knot, which is thought to control tooth morphogenesis, strongly expressed P-cadherin. The expression of P-cadherin was prominent in the inner enamel epithelium during the early to mid bell stage, and was also evident in the non-dividing cell masses at future cusp tips, which are the so-called secondary enamel knots. In the tooth germ at the late bell stage when the cells of the inner enamel epithelium began to polarize to differentiate into ameloblasts, the polarizing ameloblasts lost P-cadherin and strongly expressed E-cadherin. However, E-cadherin was also lost from polarized ameloblasts at later stages. The stratum intermedium and the stellate reticulum were E-cadherin positive from the bell stage onward even at the stages when the ameloblasts became E-cadherin negative again. These results suggest that the differential expression of E- and P-cadherin during morphogenetic stages plays a role in the regulation of tooth morphogenesis, whereas alteration of E-cadherin expression during later stages of tooth development is related to differentiation and function of the ameloblasts and other cells supporting amelogenesis.

Accepted: 29 January 1998