Identification of cis-DNA regions controlling Bmp4 expression during tooth morphogenesis in vivo.
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Epithelial-mesenchymal interactions are required for tooth formation. Bone morphogenetic protein 4 (Bmp4) is a crucial signaling molecule during this process. For better understanding of the role of the Bmp4 gene during tooth development, we studied the mechanisms that control its temporal and spatial expression during development. Using a transgenic approach, we determined that the domains which controlled Bmp4 expression in epithelium-derived ameloblasts were located in the region between 0.26 kb and 1.1 kb of the murine Bmp4 promoter. In contrast, the domains controlling Bmp4 expression in mesenchyme-derived odontoblasts and pulp cells existed in other regions of the Bmp4 gene. We have also demonstrated that the domains controlling Bmp4 expression in primordial tooth cells differ from those controlling Bmp4 expression in mature tooth tissues. The determination of unique domains by controlling the expression of the Bmp4 gene suggests that different transcriptional factors regulate the Bmp4 level at different stages during tooth morphogenesis.