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Little is known about the role of cell-cell adhesion in the development of mineralized tissues. Here we report that PERP, a tetraspan membrane protein essential for epithelial integrity, regulates enamel formation. PERP is necessary for proper cell attachment and gene expression during tooth development, and its expression is controlled by P63, a master regulator of stratified epithelial development. During enamel formation, PERP is localized to the interface between the enamel-producing ameloblasts and the stratum intermedium (SI), a layer of cells subjacent to the ameloblasts. Perp-null mice display dramatic enamel defects, which are caused, in part, by the detachment of ameloblasts from the SI. Microarray analysis comparing gene expression in teeth of wild-type and Perp-null mice identified several differentially expressed genes during enamel formation. Analysis of these genes in ameloblast-derived LS8 cells upon knockdown of PERP confirmed the role for PERP in the regulation of gene expression. Together, our data show that PERP is necessary for the integrity of the ameloblast-SI interface and that a lack of Perp causes downregulation of genes that are required for proper enamel formation.
Dental enamel development occurs in stages. The ameloblast cell layer is adjacent to, and is responsible for, enamel formation. When rodent pre-ameloblasts become tall columnar secretory-stage ameloblasts, they secrete enamel matrix proteins, and the ameloblasts start moving in rows that slide by one another. This movement is necessary to form the characteristic decussating enamel prism pattern. Thus, a dynamic system of intercellular interactions is required for proper enamel development. Cadherins are components of the adherens junction (AJ), and they span the cell membrane to mediate attachment to adjacent cells. p120 stabilizes cadherins by preventing their internalization and degradation. So, we asked if p120-mediated cadherin stability is important for dental enamel formation. Targeted p120 ablation in the mouse enamel organ had a striking effect. Secretory stage ameloblasts detached from surrounding tissues, lost polarity, flattened, and ameloblast E- and N-cadherin expression became undetectable by immunostaining. The enamel itself was poorly mineralized and appeared to be composed of a thin layer of merged spheres that abraded from the tooth. Significantly, p120 mosaic mouse teeth were capable of forming normal enamel demonstrating that the enamel defects were not a secondary effect of p120 ablation. Surprisingly, blood-filled sinusoids developed in random locations around the developing teeth. This has not been observed in other p120-ablated tissues and may be due to altered p120-mediated cell signaling. These data reveal a critical role for p120 in tooth and dental enamel development and are consistent with p120 directing the attachment and detachment of the secretory stage ameloblasts as they move in rows.
Laminin-5 (Ln-5) is an extracellular matrix (ECM) glycoprotein found in epithelial basal laminae. We studied its expression on the surface of rat molars, in relationship to the location of the internal basal lamina (IBL) of the junctional epithelium (JE). In order to avoid disruption of the JE-tooth interface as much as possible, the surface of molars was prepared by mechanical removal of tissue debris and detergent/osmotic lysis of epithelial cell layers, and directly stained by immunohistochemistry, without sectioning. Antibodies to Ln-5 specifically stained a narrow band in the region of the cemento-enamel junction (CEJ), consistent with the expected location of the IBL. Western blotting of ECM material detergent--solubilized from the prepared tooth surfaces confirmed the molecular nature of Ln-5 identified by immunohistochemistry. By the use of a high-definition 3-D microscope, it appeared that Ln-5 coated the most apical part of the enamel and the most coronal portion of the cementum, on either side of the CEJ. In adhesion assays performed directly on tooth surfaces, epithelial cells adhered preferentially to the Ln-5 coated area of the tooth compared to the root surface, which is coated by other ECM components. Adhesion to the Ln-5 coated surface was specifically inhibited by a function-blocking monoclonal antibody to Ln-5. These results suggest that Ln-5 is a component of the IBL, and that it may be important in promoting adhesion of JE cells onto the tooth surface.
A case of oculodentodigital dysplasia in a 35-year-old man is reported. The diagnosis was based on the characteristic facies, microcornea, and dental dysplasia. Digital findings, although consistent with previous reports, were somewhat atypical, with almost complete aplasia of the right foot present. Although the patient appeared to be mentally retarded, it is not clear whether this can be considered a component of the syndrome or merely a coincidental finding.