Wnt signaling is essential for tooth formation. Members of the Dickkopf (Dkk) family modulate the Wnt signaling pathway by binding to the Wnt receptor complex. Comparison of Dkk1, -2, and -3 mRNA expression during mouse tooth formation revealed that all three genes showed distinct spatiotemporally regulated expression patterns. Dkk1 was prominently expressed in the distal, incisor-bearing mesenchyme area of the mandibular process during the initial stages of tooth formation. During molar morphogenesis Dkk1 was detected in the dental mesenchyme, including the preodontoblasts. Dkk2 was seen in the dental papilla, whereas Dkk3 was specifically expressed in the putative epithelial signaling centers, the primary and secondary enamel knots. Postnatally, Dkk1 was prominently expressed in the preodonto- and odontoblasts, while Dkk3 mRNAs were transiently seen in the preameloblasts before the onset of enamel matrix secretion. These results suggest that modulation of Wnt-signaling by Dkks may serve important functions in patterning of dentition as well as in crown morphogenesis and dental hard-tissue formation.
Copyright 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.