In-vitro regulation of odontogenic gene expression in human embryonic tooth cells and SHED cells
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The bud-to-cap stage transition during early tooth development is a time when the tooth-inducing potential becomes restricted to the mesenchyme. Several key genes, expressed in the mesenchyme at this stage, are an absolute requirement for the progression of tooth development. These include the transcription factors Msx1 and Pax9. The inductive potential of tooth mesenchyme cells is a key requisite for whole-tooth bioengineering and thus identification of cells that can retain this property following expansion in culture is an important as yet unresolved, goal. We show here that in-vitro culture of embryonic human tooth mesenchyme cells and SHED cells express low levels of PAX9 and MSX1 and that these levels can be significantly upregulated by activation of different signalling pathways. Such in-vitro manipulation may thus offer a simple way of maintaining/restoring/inducing the odontogenic-inducing capacity in mesenchymal cells.