Heikinheimo,K., Bgue-Kirn,C., Ritvos,O., Tuuri,T., and, Ruch,J.V.
The activin-binding protein follistatin is expressed in developing murine molar and induces odontoblast-like cell differentiation in vitro.
Journal of Dental Research 76(10):1625-1636 (1997).
It has recently been shown that mice deficient in activin-beta A subunits and follistatin exhibit major defects in dentition. To increase understanding of the roles played by these molecules during tooth development, we determined the temporospatial expression of activin-beta A subunit and follistatin messenger RNA and their corresponding proteins in developing murine molars (between day E 14 and 2 days after birth). The effects of recombinant human activin A and its binding protein follistatin on odontoblast differentiation were also studied in cultures of dental papillae (DP) isolated from the mandibular first molars of E-17-day mice. In situ hybridization indicated that transcripts for activin-beta A subunit were abundant in pre-odontoblasts at the tips of forming cusps prior to odontoblast terminal differentiation, and transcripts for follistatin in overlying inner enamel epithelial cells (pre-ameloblasts). Pre-odontoblasts were also weakly immunoreactive in relation to activin-beta A subunit, pre-ameloblasts in relation to follistatin. When follistatin was added at different concentrations to a DP culture model (2-14 nmol/DP) together with heparin at constant concentration, differentiation of odontoblast-like cells was induced, as evidenced by polarization and deposition of extracellular matrix in vitro, to extents depending on the follistatin concentration. In contrast, the addition of activin A (2 nmol/DP) had no effect on the differentiation parameters studied. These findings suggest that the activin-follistatin system regulates odontoblast differentiation during tooth development. In particular, we suggest that binding of endogenous activin A by follistatin may allow odontoblast terminal differentiation to occur.

Last edited 10.12.2004 by P.N.