Facilitated By

San Antonio Medical Foundation


UT Health San Antonio

The UT Health San Antonio, with missions of teaching, research and healing, is one of the country’s leading health sciences universities.

Principal Investigator(s)
Chen, Shuo
Funded by
Research Start Date

One of the most important goals of dentistry and the NIDCR/NIH is to generate a whole ?Bio-Tooth?. Dentin is a critical structural component of tooth. Although it has made great progress ofdentin development benefit for numerous hereditary syndromes and chromosomal anomalies,many gaps have been remained. Understanding signaling pathways of dental mesenchymallineages and dentin formation would provide an avenue for repair and regeneration of dentin.Dentin sialophosphoprotein (Dspp) is highly expressed in odontoblasts and dentin and processedin to dentin sialoprotein (Dsp) and dentin phosphoprotein (Dpp). Dsp and Dpp mutations areassociated with dentinogenesis imperfecta (DGI), which is the most common dentin geneticdisorder.Our long-ranged goal is to elucidate the biological mechanisms controlling dentin formation, whichwill fill a key gap of knowledge leading to dentin regenerating. The objective here is to define thesignaling pathways essential for dentinogenesis. Our central hypothesis is that the novel controlmechanisms, in which the several signals among Bmp2-pAkt-pErk-Dlx3-Sp7-Gcn5-Dspp as well asDsp-integrin ?6 and Dsp-occludin play synergic roles in controlling dentin formation. Thehypothesis is based on our strong preliminary data produced using both global knockout (KO) andconditional KO (cKO) mouse models as well as in vitro cellular and molecule approaches. ThreeSpecific Aims are proposed to test this hypothesis: 1). to determine Bmp2 signaling in Dsppexpression and dentin formation. Bmp2 signal plays functional roles: Dspp expression via up-regulation of Bmp2-pAkt-Erk-Dlx3-Sp7-Gcn5G signaling pathways. 2). to rescue dentin formation inBmp2 KO mice by overexpression of Dspp gene. Due to dramatically decrease of Dspp expressionand dentin defect in Bmp2 KO mice, the hypothesis is that Dspp overexpression in Bmp2 KO miceis able to rescue dentin formation. 3). to determine Dsp signaling in dental mesenchymal celldifferentiation and dentin formation. Dsp is processed by MMP9 into active fragments, which asligands bind to cell membrane receptors, integrin ?6 and occludin. The Dsp-?6 complex positivelystimulates Dspp expression and odontoblast homeostasis through up-regulation of Smad1/5/8signaling. Dsp-occludin signal enhances phosphorylation of focal adhesion kinase (FAK),promoting dental mesenchymal cell differentiation. The proposed research is innovative becauseeach step of transcription, posttranslational processing and signaling transduction of Dsp/Dspp isnecessary for the formation of healthy dentin. Such knowledge will advance our understanding ofthe pathogenesis of inherited disorders that threaten the structural integrity of dentin and provide apotential clue for treating dental diseases and dentin regeneration.

Collaborative Project
Clinical Care
Regenerative Medicine