Dental stem cells are located at the proximal ends of rodent incisors. These stem cells reside in the dental epithelial stem cell niche, termed the apical bud. We focused on identifying critical features of a chemotactic signal in the niche. Here, we report that CXCR4/CXCL12 signaling impacts enamel progenitor cell proliferation and motility in dental stem cell niche cells. We report cells in the apical bud express CXCR4 mRNA at high levels while expression is restricted in the basal epithelium (BE) and transit-amplifying (TA) cell regions. Furthermore, the CXCL12 ligand is present in mesenchymal cells adjacent to the apical bud. We then performed gain- and loss-of-function analyses to better elucidate the role of CXCR4 and CXCL12. CXCR4-deficient mice contain epithelial cell aggregates, while cell proliferation in mutant incisors was also significantly reduced. We demonstrate in vitro that dental epithelial cells migrate toward sources of CXCL12, whereas knocking down CXCR4 impaired motility and resulted in formation of dense cell colonies. These results suggest that CXCR4 expression may be critical for activation of enamel progenitor cell division and that CXCR4/CXCL12 signaling may control movement of epithelial progenitors from the dental stem cell niche.
- CXCR4/CXCL12 signal
- Dental stem cell niche
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Cell Biology