Identification of novel candidate genes implicated in odontogenic potential in the developing mouse tooth germ using transcriptome analysis

Genes Genomics. 2021 Sep;43(9):1087-1094. doi: 10.1007/s13258-021-01130-y. Epub 2021 Jul 24.


Background: In tooth bioengineering for replacement therapy of missing teeth, the utilized cells must possess an inductive signal-forming ability to initiate odontogenesis. This ability is called odontogenic potential. In mice, the odontogenic potential signal is known to be translocated from the epithelium to the mesenchyme at the early bud stage in the developing molar tooth germ. However, the identity of the molecular constituents of this process remains unclear.

Objective: The purpose of this study is to determine the molecular identity of odontogenic potential and to provide a new perspective in the field of tooth development research.

Methods: In this study, whole transcriptome profiles of the mouse molar tooth germ epithelium and mesenchyme were investigated using the RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) technique. The analyzed transcriptomes corresponded to two developmental stages, embryonic day 11.5 (E11.5) and 14.5 (E14.5), which represent the odontogenic potential shifts.

Results: We identified differentially expressed genes (DEGs), which were specifically overexpressed in both the E11.5 epithelium and E14.5 mesenchyme, but not expressed in their respective counterparts. Of the 55 DEGs identified, the top three most expressed transcription factor genes (transcription factor AP-2 beta isoform 3 [TFAP2B], developing brain homeobox protein 2 [DBX2], and insulin gene enhancer protein ISL-1 [ISL1]) and three tooth development-related genes (transcription factor HES-5 [HES5], platelet-derived growth factor D precursor [PDGFD], semaphrin-3 A precursor [SEMA3A]) were selected and validated by quantitative RT-PCR. Using immunofluorescence staining, the TFAP2B protein expression was found to be localized only at the E11.5 epithelium and E14.5 mesenchyme.

Conclusions: Thus, our empirical findings in the present study may provide a new perspective into the characterization of the molecules responsible for the odontogenic potential and may have an implication in the cell-based whole tooth regeneration strategy.

Keywords: Odontogenesis; Odontogenic potential; RNA sequencing; developing molar tooth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Epithelium / growth & development
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / genetics
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Humans
  • LIM-Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Lymphokines / genetics
  • Mesoderm / growth & development
  • Mesoderm / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Molar / growth & development*
  • Molar / metabolism
  • Odontogenesis / genetics*
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor / genetics
  • RNA-Seq
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics
  • Semaphorin-3A / genetics
  • Tooth Germ / growth & development*
  • Tooth Germ / metabolism
  • Transcription Factor AP-2 / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcriptome / genetics*


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Dbx2 protein, mouse
  • Hes5 protein, mouse
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • LIM-Homeodomain Proteins
  • Lymphokines
  • Pdgfd protein, mouse
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Sema3a protein, mouse
  • Semaphorin-3A
  • Tfap2b protein, mouse
  • Transcription Factor AP-2
  • Transcription Factors
  • insulin gene enhancer binding protein Isl-1