N-cadherin is Required for Cytodifferentiation during Zebrafish Odontogenesis

Verstraeten, B.; van Hengel, J.; Sanders, E.; Van Roy, F.; Huysseune, A.
April 2013
Journal of Dental Research;Apr2013, Vol. 92 Issue 4, p365
Academic Journal
N-cadherin is a well-studied classic cadherin involved in multiple developmental processes and is also known to have a signaling function. Using the zebrafish (Danio rerio) as a model, we tested the hypothesis that tooth morphogenesis is accompanied by dynamic changes in N-cadherin distribution and that absence of N-cadherin disturbs tooth development. N-cadherin, encoded by the gene cdh2, is absent during the initiation and morphogenesis stages of both primary (first-generation) and replacement teeth, as demonstrated by immunohistochemistry. However, N-cadherin is up-regulated at the onset of differentiation of cells of the inner dental epithelium and the dental papilla, i.e., the ameloblasts and odontoblasts, respectively. In the inner dental epithelium, N-cadherin is co-expressed with E-cadherin, excluding the occurrence of cadherin switching such as observed during human tooth development. While early lethality of N-cadherin knockout mice prevents any functional study of N-cadherin in mouse odontogenesis, zebrafish parachute (pac) mutants, deficient for N-cadherin, survive beyond the age when primary teeth normally start to form. In these mutants, the first tooth forms, but its development stops at the early cytodifferentiation stage. N-cadherin deficiency also completely inhibits the development of the other first-generation teeth, possibly due to the absence of N-cadherin signaling once the first tooth has differentiated.


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