Tooth morphogenesis and pattern of odontoblast differentiation

Connect Tissue Res. 2003;44 Suppl 1:167-70.


The terminal differentiation of odontoblasts is controlled by the inner dental epithelium (IDE) and occurs according to a tooth-specific pattern. It requires temporospatially regulated epigenetic signaling and the expression of specific competence. The patterning of cusp formation was compared with that of odontoblast differentiation in the first lower molar in mice. Histology, immunostaining, and three dimensional reconstructions were completed by experimental approaches in vitro. The mesenchyme controls the pattern of cusp formation. During the cap-bell transition in the molar, a subpopulation of nondividing IDE cells from the enamel knot (EK) undergo a tooth-specific segregation in as many subpopulations as cusps will form. Epithelial cell-basement membrane interactions seem to be involved in the segregation of EK cells. The timing and spatial pattern of the segregation of EK cells correlate with cusps formation. However, the temporal pattern of odontoblast terminal differentiation is different. This discrepancy might result from cusp-specific differences either in the timing of the initiation of odontoblast terminal differentiation and/or in cell proliferation kinetics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Calcification, Physiologic / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred CBA
  • Morphogenesis
  • Odontoblasts / cytology
  • Odontoblasts / physiology*
  • Odontogenesis / physiology*
  • Tooth Germ / growth & development*