Gene expression, signal transduction and tissue-specific biomineralization during mammalian tooth development.
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Tooth development provides a paradigm for intrinsic molecular controls for cell- and extracellular matrix (ECM)-mediated biomineralization. The intent of this review is to evaluate the sequential timing and positional information prerequisite for tissue-specific biomineralization. Recent investigations suggest that 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 functions to up-regulate VDR (vitamin D receptor) that in turn could induce structural gene products, including calcium-binding proteins and several ECM proteins (e.g., enamelins, amelogenins, dentine sialoglycoproteins (DSP) and dentine phosphoproteins (DPP)), resulting in dentine and enamel formation. Inhibition of regulatory gene products and/or their receptors likely results in hypoplastic and/or hypomineralized ECM as a direct consequence of down-regulated (1) transcription and/or translation of structural and regulatory genes, (2) posttranslational modifications, (3) and/or decreased calcium transport to the forming dentine and enamel matrices. Advances in serumless in vitro culture methodology; computer-assisted access to nucleic acid sequences for probes to define when, where, and how many specific regulatory and structural gene products are expressed; antisense oligodeoxynucleotides to inhibit specific translation; and microtechniques to analyze biomineralization all provide additional avenues to investigate tissue-specific biomineralization.