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The tooth is mainly composed of dentin and enamel. Identification of dentin-producing odontoblasts and enamel-producing ameloblasts using reporter techniques is useful to study tooth development and regeneration with tissue engineering. Ameloblasts express Amelogenin, Ameloblastin, Enamelin, and Amelotin, whereas odontoblasts express Dentin sialophosphoprotein (Dspp) and Dentin matrix protein1 (Dmp1). Although there are several transgenic lines using promoter elements or bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) to label odontoblasts and ameloblasts, there is a possibility that the expression patterns vary from the endogenous genes. Here, we established 2 lines of mice where tdTomato was knocked into the second exon of X-chromosomal Amelogenin (Amelx), and green fluorescent protein (GFP) was knocked into the second exon of Dspp. tdTomato and GFP were highly expressed on secretory ameloblasts and secretory and fully differentiated odontoblasts, respectively. In addition, DSPP and AMELX were not produced in the dentin matrix and enamel matrix of DsppGFP/GFP and AmelxtdTomato male mice (as representative of AmelxtdTomato/Y hemizygous male mice), respectively. Moreover, micro-computed tomography analysis of AmelxtdTomato male mice revealed a notable reduction in enamel volume but increased dentin mineral density. DsppGFP/GFP mice had reduced dentin mineral density. To identify odontoblasts and ameloblasts from developing tooth, we examined the expression of mesenchymal cell surface molecules CD90, CD166 and epithelial cell surface molecules CD49f, Epcam1 with fluorescence on odontoblasts and ameloblasts in these mice. We found that GFP+ odontoblasts and tdTomato+ ameloblasts in tooth germ from 0.5-d-old DsppGFP/+ mice and AmelxtdTomato male mice were enriched in CD45-/Ter119-/Epcam1-/CD90+/Integrin α4+cell fractions and CD45-/Ter119-/Epcam1+/CD49f+/CD147+ cell fractions, respectively. By using antibodies against mesenchymal and epithelial cell surface molecules and fluorescence, we can easily distinguish odontoblasts from ameloblasts and isolate each cell for further studies. These mice would serve as useful models for tooth development and regeneration as well as provide concurrent observation for the differentiation processes of odontoblasts and ameloblasts in vivo and in vitro.


K Isono, E Takahashi, I Miyoshi, M Tsuneto, M Hikosaka-Kuniishi, T Yamane, H Yamazaki. Simultaneous Fluorescent Identification of Odontoblasts and Ameloblasts. Journal of dental research. 2021 May;100(5):532-541

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PMID: 33289448

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