Wnt/beta-catenin signaling in oral tissue development and disease.
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The Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway is one of several key conserved intercellular signaling pathways in animals, and plays fundamental roles in the proliferation, regeneration, differentiation, and function of many cell and tissue types. This pathway is activated in a dynamic manner during the morphogenesis of oral organs, including teeth, taste papillae, and taste buds, and is essential for these processes to occur normally. Conversely, forced activation of Wnt/beta-catenin signaling promotes the formation of ectopic teeth and taste papillae. In this review, we discuss our current understanding of the roles of Wnt/beta-catenin signaling in oral tissue development and in related human diseases, and the potential of manipulating this pathway for therapeutic purposes.
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