Cementoblasts, tooth root lining cells, are responsible for laying down cementum on the root surface, a process that is indispensable for establishing a functional periodontal ligament. Cementoblasts share phenotypical features with osteoblasts. Elevated levels of extracellular Ca2+ have been implicated in osteogenesis by stimulating the proliferation and differentiation of osteoblasts; however, the role of extracellular Ca2+ signaling in cementogenesis has not been examined. Using RT-PCR, we found that elevated levels of extracellular Ca2+ increase fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-2 gene expression with a peak at 6h. Pretreatment with a protein kinase A (PKA) inhibitor, H89, or an adenylate cyclase inhibitor, MDL-12,330A, inhibited Ca2+-stimulated Fgf-2 expression. In contrast, pretreatment with the protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitor GF-109203X or the phospholipase C (PLC) inhibitor U73122 did not affect the expression of Fgf-2 transcripts, suggesting that the increase in Fgf-2 expression was dependent on the PKA but not the PLC/PKC signaling pathway. Treatment with an activator of adenylate cyclase, forskolin, or a cell-permeable analog of cAMP, 8-Br-cAMP, enhanced Ca2+-stimulated Fgf-2 expression, but a single treatment with forskolin or 8-Br-cAMP did not, suggesting that cAMP generation is indispensable but not sufficient for Ca2+-stimulated FGF2 expression. Next, we examined the cation specificity of the putative receptor and showed that treatment with trivalent/divalent inorganic ions, Ca2+, Gd3+, Sr2+, or Al3+, caused a dose-dependent increase in Fgf-2 mRNA levels in a cAMP-dependent fashion, whereas Mg2+ and the organic ions neomycin and spermine had no effect on Fgf-2 gene expression levels. These findings suggest that an extracellular Ca2+-sensing mechanism is present in cementoblasts and its activation leads to FGF-2 stimulation in a cAMP/PKA dependent fashion. Understanding the pathway regulating key genes involved in modulating the regeneration of oral tissues will assist in designing regenerative therapies based on reliable biological principles.
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