Published by CDA Journal: Vol 45, N°4:
Research from the University of Zurich have pinpointed a gene complex that is responsible for the formation of tooth enamel. according to a study published in the weekly journal Science Signaling in February.
Two teams from the Centre of Dental Medicine and the Institute of Molecular Life Sciences used mice with varying mutations of the enamel proteins involved in the so-Wnt signaling pathway. Thanks to this transmission route, human and animal cells respond to external signals and specifically activate selected genes in the cell nucleus. The signaling pathway is essential for embryonal development and plays a pivotal role in development of cancer or physical malformations.
“All mice with mutations in these proteins exhibit teeth with enamel defects,” said Pierfrancesco Pagella, co-author of the study. “Therefore, we demonstrated that there is a direct link between mutations in these proteins and the development of tooth enamel defects.”
The teams discovered that three particular proteins involved in the Wnt signaling pathway aren’t just involved in the development of severe illnesses, but also in the qualitative refinement of highly developed tissue. “If the signal transmission isn’t working properly, the structure of the tooth enamel can change,” said co-author Claudio Cantù.
The hardness and composition of the tooth enamel can affect the progression of cavities. Research revealed that tooth decay isn’t just linked to bacteria, but also the tooth’s resistance, said Thimios Mitsiadis, professor of oral biology at the Center of Dental Medicine. Bacteria and their toxic products can easily penetrate enamel with a less stable structure, which leads to carious lesions even if oral hygiene is maintained, according to the study.
Understanding the molecular-biological connections of tooth enamel development and the impact of mutations that lead to enamel defects opens up new possibilities for the prevention of cavities. “New products that hinder the progress of tooth cavities in the event of defective tooth enamel will enable us to improve the dental health of patients considerably,” Mitsiadis said.
Learn more about this study in Science Signaling 10 (465) (2017).
Published by Journal of California Dental Association (CDA), Volume 45, N°4. April 2017.