Role of Primary Cilia in Odontogenesis

J Dent Res. 2017 Aug;96(9):965-974. doi: 10.1177/0022034517713688. Epub 2017 Jun 12.


Primary cilium is a solitary organelle that emanates from the surface of most postmitotic mammalian cells and serves as a sensory organelle, transmitting the mechanical and chemical cues to the cell. Primary cilia are key coordinators of various signaling pathways during development and maintenance of tissue homeostasis. The emerging evidence implicates primary cilia function in tooth development. Primary cilia are located in the dental epithelium and mesenchyme at early stages of tooth development and later during cell differentiation and production of hard tissues. The cilia are present when interactions between both the epithelium and mesenchyme are required for normal morphogenesis. As the primary cilium coordinates several signaling pathways essential for odontogenesis, ciliary defects can interrupt the latter process. Genetic or experimental alterations of cilia function lead to various developmental defects, including supernumerary or missing teeth, enamel and dentin hypoplasia, or teeth crowding. Moreover, dental phenotypes are observed in ciliopathies, including Bardet-Biedl syndrome, Ellis-van Creveld syndrome, Weyers acrofacial dysostosis, cranioectodermal dysplasia, and oral-facial-digital syndrome, altogether demonstrating that primary cilia play a critical role in regulation of both the early odontogenesis and later differentiation of hard tissue-producing cells. Here, we summarize the current evidence for the localization of primary cilia in dental tissues and the impact of disrupted cilia signaling on tooth development in ciliopathies.

Keywords: craniofacial anomalies; growth/development; mineralized tissue/development; odontoblast(s); oral pathology; signal transduction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cilia / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Maxillofacial Development / physiology
  • Odontogenesis / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology