Sequential expression of matrix protein genes in developing rat teeth

Matrix Biol. 1999 Apr;18(2):133-43. doi: 10.1016/s0945-053x(99)00007-4.


Tooth organogenesis is dependent on reciprocal and sequential epithelial-mesenchymal interactions and is marked by the appearance of phenotypic matrix macromolecules in both dentin and enamel. The organic matrix of enamel is composed of amelogenins, ameloblastin/amelin, enamelins and tuftelin. Dentin is mainly composed of type I collagen, but its specificity arises from the nature of the non-collagenous proteins (NCPs) involved in mineralization, phosphophoryn (DPP), dentin sialoprotein (DSP), osteocalcin, bone sialoprotein and dentin matrix protein-1 (Dmp1). In this paper, we studied the pattern of expression of four mineralizing protein genes (type I collagen, amelogenin, DSPP and osteocalcin) during the development of rat teeth by in situ hybridization on serial sections. For this purpose, we used an easy and rapid procedure to prepare highly-specific labeled single-stranded DNA probes using asymmetric polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Our results show that type I collagen is primarily expressed in polarizing odontoblasts, followed by the osteocalcin gene expression in the same polarized cells. Concomitantly, polarized ameloblasts start to accumulate amelogenin mRNAs and transiently express the DSPP gene. This latter expression switches over to odontoblasts whereas mineralization occurs. At the same time, osteocalcin gene expression decreases in secretory odontoblasts. Osteocalcin may thus act as an inhibitor of mineralization whereas DSP/DPP would be involved in more advanced steps of mineralization. Amelogenin and type I collagen gene expression increases during dentin mineralization. Their expression is spatially and temporally controlled, in relation with the biological role of their cognate proteins in epithelial-mesenchymal interactions and mineralization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amelogenin
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Collagen / genetics
  • Dental Enamel Proteins / genetics
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Osteocalcin / genetics
  • Phosphoproteins / genetics
  • Protein Precursors
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sialoglycoproteins / genetics
  • Tooth / embryology
  • Tooth / metabolism*


  • Amelogenin
  • Amelx protein, rat
  • Dental Enamel Proteins
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Protein Precursors
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Sialoglycoproteins
  • dentin sialophosphoprotein
  • phosphophoryn
  • Osteocalcin
  • Collagen