Tracing the migration of epithelial stem cells to uncover enamel decussation patterns



Year of publication 2022
Type Conference abstract
Description Tooth enamel is an extremely hard and resilient complex tissue, crucial for mastication. It is formed in a process of amelogenesis, by specialized cells – ameloblasts. As ameloblasts develop, grow and secrete matrix components, distinct structures, known as enamel rods, emerge. It has long been known that enamel rods alternate positions and overlap with each other, forming peculiar decussation patterns. However, there is still no sufficient explanation of how these patterns form, and how that process is initiated and regulated during odontogenesis. In this study, we've visualized the formation of decussation patterns using lineage tracing in a model system of mouse incisors. We genetically traced epithelial stem cells, marked them with fluorescent reporter proteins. Using this state-of-the-art system, we were able to observe the enamel growth and map the development backwards in time. We suppose that ameloblasts' fate and growth direction is decided in the very beginning of amelogenesis, in the apical part of the tooth – cells split and continue moving in several distinct trajectories. Our results give a better understanding of the process of amelogenesis. We anticipate these results to be followed by further functional research, which will be relevant for reparative dentistry and generally broaden the existing understanding of tooth development.

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