Bei,M., and, Maas,R.
FGFs and BMP4 induce both Msx1-independent and Msx1-dependent signaling pathways in early tooth development.
Development 125(21):4325-4333 (1998).
During early tooth development, multiple signaling molecules are expressed in the dental lamina epithelium and induce the dental mesenchyme. One signal, BMP4, has been shown to induce morphologic changes in dental mesenchyme and mesenchymal gene expression via Msx1, but BMP4 cannot substitute for all the inductive functions of the dental epithelium. To investigate the role of FGFs during early tooth development, we examined the expression of epithelial and mesenchymal Fgfs in wild-type and Msx1 mutant tooth germs and tested the ability of FGFs to induce Fgf3 and Bmp4 expression in wild-type and Msx1 mutant dental mesenchymal explants. Fgf8 expression is preserved in Msx1 mutant epithelium while that of Fgf3 is not detected in Msx1 mutant dental mesenchyme. Moreover, dental epithelium as well as beads soaked in FGF1, FGF2 or FGF8 induce Fgf3 expression in dental mesenchyme in an Msx1-dependent manner. These results indicate that, like BMP4, FGF8 constitutes an epithelial inductive signal capable of inducing the expression of downstream signaling molecules in dental mesenchyme via Msx1. However, the BMP4 and FGF8 signaling pathways are distinct. BMP4 cannot induce Fgf3 nor can FGFs induce Bmp4 expression in dental mesenchyme, even though both signaling molecules can induce Msx1 and Msx1 is necessary for Fgf3 and Bmp4 expression in dental mesenchyme. In addition, we have investigated the effects of FGFs and BMP4 on the distal- less homeobox genes Dlx1 and Dlx2 and we have clarified the relationship between Msx and Dlx gene function in the developing tooth. Dlx1,Dlx2 double mutants exhibit a lamina stage arrest in maxillary molar tooth development (Thomas B. L., Tucker A. S., Qiu M. , Ferguson C. A., Hardcastle Z., Rubenstein J. L. R. and Sharpe P. T. (1997) Development 124, 4811- 4818). Although the maintenance of molar mesenchymal Dlx2 expression at the bud stage is Msx1-dependent, both the maintenance of Dlx1 expression and the initial activation of mesenchymal Dlx1 and Dlx2 expression during the lamina stage are not. Moreover, in contrast to the tooth bud stage arrest observed in Msx1 mutants, Msx1,Msx2 double mutants exhibit an earlier phenotype closely resembling the lamina stage arrest observed in Dlx1,Dlx2 double mutants. These results are consistent with functional redundancy between Msx1 and Msx2 in dental mesenchyme and support a model whereby Msx and Dlx genes function in parallel within the dental mesenchyme during tooth initiation. Indeed, as predicted by such a model, BMP4 and FGF8, epithelial signals that induce differential Msx1 and Msx2 expression in dental mesenchyme, also differentially induce Dlx1 and Dlx2 expression, and do so in an Msx1-independent manner. These results integrate Dlx1, Dlx2 and Fgf3 and Fgf8 into the odontogenic regulatory hierarchy along with Msx1, Msx2 and Bmp4, and provide a basis for interpreting tooth induction in terms of transcription factors which, individually, are necessary but not sufficient for the expression of downstream signals and therefore must act in specific combinations.

Last edited 10.12.2004 by P.N.