Tummers,M., and, Thesleff,I.
Root or crown: a developmental choice orchestrated by the differential regulation of the epithelial stem cell niche in the tooth of two rodent species.
Development 130(6):1049-1057 (2003).
The rodent incisor grows continuously throughout its lifetime. The epithelial stem cell niche is located at the apical end of the tooth and its progeny gives rise to the ameloblasts that form the hard enamel. Previously, mesenchymal FGF10 was shown to support the niche, in conjunction with epithelial Notch signaling. Here we show that in a different continuously growing tooth type, the molar of the sibling vole, a similar regulatory system is in place. Moreover, the identical expression pattern of Bmp4 compared to Fgf10 suggests that BMP4 could also be involved in the regulation of the epithelial stem cell niche. Notch and FGF10 signaling is mainly absent in the mouse molar, which stops growing and develops roots. The regulation of the epithelial stem cell niche seems to be flexible allowing for the existence of different tooth types, such as continuously growing teeth, and high and low crowned molars.

Last edited 10.12.2004 by P.N.