Research ArticleDevelopmental Biology

A Wnt-Bmp Feedback Circuit Controls Intertissue Signaling Dynamics in Tooth Organogenesis

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Science Signaling  10 Jan 2012:
Vol. 5, Issue 206, pp. ra4
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2002414

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A Toothsome Circuit

Interactions between two different types of tissue, epithelium and mesenchyme, play important roles in development and cancer. Tooth development is a system for studying epithelial-mesenchymal interactions that is amenable to experimental manipulation. O’Connell et al. performed gene expression profiling of developing molar dental tissues in mice and computational analyses to construct a gene regulatory network that identified a key feedback circuit mediated by diffusible signaling molecules of the Wnt and Bmp families. This circuit controls the production of signaling molecules in other pathways and is self-sustaining. The authors validated their circuit in mice with mutations expected to disrupt the Wnt-Bmp signaling pathways. Similar feedback circuits may also operate in epithelial-mesenchymal interactions in other developing organs or in tumors.