Controlling the Number of Tooth Rows

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Sci. Signal.  25 Aug 2009:
Vol. 2, Issue 85, pp. pe53
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.285pe53

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The organization and renewal capacity of teeth vary greatly among vertebrates. Mammals have only one row of teeth that are renewed at most once, whereas many nonmammalian species have multirowed dentitions and show remarkable capacity to replace their teeth throughout life. Although knowledge on the genetic basis of tooth morphogenesis has increased exponentially over the past 20 years, little is known about the molecular mechanisms controlling sequential initiation of multiple tooth rows or restricting tooth development to one row in mammals. Mouse genetics has revealed a pivotal role for the transcription factor Osr2 in this process. Loss of Osr2 caused expansion of the expression domain of Bmp4, a well-known activator of tooth development, leading to the induction of supernumerary teeth in a manner resembling the initiation of a second tooth row in nonmammalian species.

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