The gene, called Ctip2, is a "transcription factor" that was already known to have several functions - in immune response, and the development of skin and the nervous system. Scientists can now add tooth development to that list.
The findings were just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"It's not unusual for a gene to have multiple functions, but before this we didn't know what regulated the production of tooth enamel," said Chrissa Kioussi, an assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy at Oregon State University. "This is the first transcription factor ever found to control the formation and maturation of ameloblasts, which are the cells that secrete enamel."
The researchers used a laboratory mouse model in this study in which this gene has been "knocked out" and its protein is missing. Such mice lack basic biological systems and cannot live after birth, but allow scientists to study what is there, and what's missing.
In this case, the mice had rudimentary teeth ready to erupt, but they lacked a proper enamel coating, and never would have been functional.
"Enamel is one of the hardest coatings found in nature, it evolved to give carnivores the tough and long-lasting teeth they needed to survive," Kioussi said.
With an understanding of its genetic underpinning, Kioussi said, it may be possible to use tooth stem cells to stimulate the growth of new enamel. Some groups are already having success growing the inner portions of teeth in laboratory animal experiments, but those teeth have no hard coatings – the scientists lacked the genetic material that makes enamel.
"A lot of work would still be needed to bring this to human applications, but it should work," Kioussi said. "It could be really cool, a whole new approach to dental health."
Many people have problems with eroded tooth enamel, including people who smoke, drink and especially some who use illegal drugs such as methamphetamine. And most cavities start as a hole in tooth enamel that allows decay to begin.
Chrissa Kioussi | EurekAlert!
Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH
Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences