Several members of the transforming growth factor (TGF)-β superfamily are expressed in developing teeth from the initiation stage through adulthood. Of those, TGF-β1 regulates odontoblast differentiation and dentin extracellular matrix synthesis. However, the molecular mechanism of TGF-β3 in dental pulp cells is not clearly understood. In the present study, beads soaked with human recombinant TGF-β3 induced ectopic mineralization in dental pulp from fetal mouse tooth germ samples, which increased in a dose-dependent manner. Further, TGF-β3 promoted mRNA expression, and increased protein levels of osteocalcin (OCN) and type I collagen (COL I) in dental pulp cells. We also observed that the expression of dentin sialophosphoprotein and dentin matrix protein 1 was induced by TGF-β3 in primary cultured dental pulp cells, however, not in calvaria osteoblasts, whereas OCN, osteopontin and osteonectin expression was increased after treatment with TGF-β3 in both dental pulp cells and calvaria osteoblasts. Dentin sialoprotein was also partially detected in the vicinity of TGF-β3 soaked beads in vivo. These results indicate for the first time that TGF-β3 induces ectopic mineralization through upregulation of OCN and COL I expression in dental pulp cells, and may regulate the differentiation of dental pulp stem cells to odontoblasts.
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