DMP1-targeted Cre expression in odontoblasts and osteocytes.
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Odontoblasts in dentin and osteocytes in bone contain dendritic processes. To test if their dendrites share a common feature, we compared their cellular morphology as visualized using scanning electron microscopy. Analysis of our data showed that both cells share an identical dendritic canalicular system and express extensive processes forming a complex network within the mineralized matrix. Because dentin matrix protein 1 (DMP1), an extracellular matrix protein, is highly expressed in both types of cells, we next tested, using a transgenic approach, whether a 9.6-kb Dmp1 promoter-4-kb 1st intron would be able to target Cre cDNA in these cells for expression/deletion of other genes in odontoblasts and osteocytes. We determined the specificity and efficiency of Cre activity by crossing Dmp1-Cre mice with ROSA26 reporter mice. Results showed that odontoblasts and osteocytes were specifically targeted, suggesting that this animal model will be useful for the preferential study of gene functions in both types of cells.