Genetic defects in tooth enamel conducive to development of caries

February 7, 2017, University of Zurich
Credit:

Bacteria are not the sole cause of caries; tooth resistance also plays an instrumental role. Researchers from the University of Zurich demonstrate that mutated genes lead to defects in the tooth enamel and can therefore encourage the development of caries.

Why do some people develop caries even though they always brush their teeth carefully while others are less stringent regarding dental hygiene yet do not have any holes? Ultimately, both have bacteria on the surface of their teeth which can attack the enamel. Enamel forms via the mineralization of specific enamel proteins. If the outer layer of the teeth is defective, can strike.

Researchers from the University of Zurich have now pinpointed a gene complex for the first time that is responsible for the formation of . 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-called 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 also plays a pivotal role in the development of cancer or physical malformations.

Mutations in proteins trigger defective tooth enamel

"All mice with mutations in these proteins exhibit teeth with enamel defects," explains Pierfrancesco Pagella, one of the study's two first authors. "Therefore, we demonstrated that there is a direct link between mutations in the genetic blueprints for these proteins and the development of tooth enamel defects." This genetic discovery goes a long way towards improving our understanding of the production of tooth enamel.

The team of researchers was the first in the world to use modern genetic, molecular and biochemical methods to study tooth enamel defects in detail. "We 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," says co-first author Claudio Cantù from the molecular biologist research group lead by Prof. Konrad Basler. "If the signal transmission isn't working properly, the structure of the tooth enamel can change."

Increased risk of caries with defective tooth enamel

The hardness and composition of the tooth enamel can affect the progression of caries. "We revealed that tooth decay isn't just linked to bacteria, but also the tooth's resistance," says 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.

Understanding the molecular-biological connections of tooth enamel development and the impact of mutations that lead to opens up new possibilities for the prevention of caries. "New products that hinder the progress of tooth caries in the event of defective tooth enamel will enable us to improve the dental health of patients considerably," adds Mitsiadis.

Explore further: Hair proteins are important in tooth enamel structure

More information: C. Cantù, P. Pagella, T. D. Shajiei, D. Zimmerli, T. Valenta, G. Hausmann, K. Basler and T. A. Mitsiadis. A cytoplasmic role of Wnt-β-catenin transcriptional cofactors in tooth enamel formation. Science Signaling. February 7, 2017. DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aah4598

Related Stories

Hair proteins are important in tooth enamel structure

October 27, 2014
Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases worldwide. While oral hygiene and dietary choices promote tooth decay, genetics are also a factor in cavity formation.

The link between hair disorders and susceptibility to dental caries

March 14, 2015
Today at the 93rd General Session and Exhibition of the International Association for Dental Research, researcher Olivier Duverger, National Institutes of Health-National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Bethesda, ...

Study reveals how enamel protects children's teeth

June 4, 2013
A new study has revealed that children's teeth are protected from damage during chewing by variation in enamel thickness along the tooth row.

Amelotin molecule plays a critical role in tooth enamel maturation

February 24, 2015
Today, the International and American Associations for Dental Research (IADR/AADR) published an innovative developmental biology study by lead researcher Bernhard Ganss, University of Toronto, ON, Canada, that relates amelotin ...

Recommended for you

Researchers discover cellular messengers communicate with bacteria in the mouth

May 8, 2018
A new UCLA-led study provides clear evidence that cellular messengers in saliva may be able to regulate the growth of oral bacteria responsible for diseases, such as periodontitis and meningitis.

Drug-filled, 3-D printed dentures could fight off infections

April 25, 2018
Nearly two-thirds of the U.S. denture-wearing population suffer frequent fungal infections that cause inflammation, redness and swelling in the mouth.

Bacteria boost antifungal drug resistance in severe childhood tooth decay

April 25, 2018
Early childhood caries, a form of severe tooth decay affecting toddlers and preschoolers, can set children up for a lifetime of dental and health problems. The problem can be significant enough that surgery is the only effective ...

Absence of a transcription factor halts tooth development in mid-stride

April 11, 2018
Amjad Javed, Ph.D., and University of Alabama at Birmingham colleagues have found a key role in tooth development for the transcription factor Specificity protein 7, or Sp7.

Toothpaste alone does not prevent dental erosion or hypersensitivity

March 14, 2018
The rising prevalence of dental erosion and dentin hypersensitivity has led to the emergence of more toothpastes that claim to treat these problems. While no such toothpaste existed 20 years ago, today, many such brands are ...

Study: Absence of key protein, TTP, rapidly turns young bones old

March 10, 2018
The absence of a protein critical to the control of inflammation may lead to rapid and severe bone loss, according to a new University at Buffalo study.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.