Dental enamel is hardest tissue in the body and is produced by dental epithelial cells residing in the tooth. Their cell fates are tightly controlled by transcriptional programs that are facilitated by fate determining transcription factors and chromatin regulators. Understanding the transcriptional program controlling dental cell fate is critical for our efforts to build and repair teeth. In this review, we describe the current understanding of these regulators essential for regeneration of dental epithelial stem cells and progeny, which are identified through transgenic mouse models. We first describe the development and morphogenesis of mouse dental epithelium in which different subpopulations of epithelia such as ameloblasts contribute to enamel formation. Then, we describe the function of critical factors in stem cells or progeny to drive enamel lineages. We also show that gene mutations of these factors are associated with dental anomalies in craniofacial diseases in humans. We also describe the function of the master regulators to govern dental lineages, in which the genetic removal of each factor switches dental cell fate to that generating hair. The distinct and related mechanisms responsible for the lineage plasticity are discussed. This knowledge will lead us to develop a potential tool for bioengineering new teeth.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Computer Science Applications
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry
- Inorganic Chemistry