Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Alligator stem cell study gives clues to tooth regeneration

Date:
May 14, 2013
Source:
University of Southern California - Health Sciences
Summary:
Alligators may help scientists learn how to stimulate tooth regeneration in people, according to new research. For the first time, a global team of researchers has uncovered unique cellular and molecular mechanisms behind tooth renewal in American alligators.

USC researchers identified three developmental phases for each alligator tooth unit, comprising a functional tooth (f), replacement tooth (r) and dental lamina.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Southern California - Health Sciences

Alligators may help scientists learn how to stimulate tooth regeneration in people, according to new research led by the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

Related Articles


For the first time, a global team of researchers led by USC pathology Professor Cheng-Ming Chuong, M.D., Ph.D., has uncovered unique cellular and molecular mechanisms behind tooth renewal in American alligators. Their study, titled "Specialized stem cell niche enables repetitive renewal of alligator teeth," appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the official journal of the United States National Academy of Sciences.

"Humans naturally only have two sets of teeth -- baby teeth and adult teeth," said Chuong. "Ultimately, we want to identify stem cells that can be used as a resource to stimulate tooth renewal in adult humans who have lost teeth. But, to do that, we must first understand how they renew in other animals and why they stop in people."

Whereas most vertebrates can replace teeth throughout their lives, human teeth are naturally replaced only once, despite the lingering presence of a band of epithelial tissue called the dental lamina, which is crucial to tooth development. Because alligators have well-organized teeth with similar form and structure as mammalian teeth and are capable of lifelong tooth renewal, the authors reasoned that they might serve as models for mammalian tooth replacement.

"Alligator teeth are implanted in sockets of the dental bone, like human teeth," said Ping Wu, Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology at the Keck School of Medicine and first author of the study. "They have 80 teeth, each of which can be replaced up to 50 times over their lifetime, making them the ideal model for comparison to human teeth."

Using microscopic imaging techniques, the researchers found that each alligator tooth is a complex unit of three components -- a functional tooth, a replacement tooth, and the dental lamina -- in different developmental stages. The tooth units are structured to enable a smooth transition from dislodgement of the functional, mature tooth to replacement with the new tooth. Identifying three developmental phases for each tooth unit, the researchers conclude that the alligator dental laminae contain what appear to be stem cells from which new replacement teeth develop.

"Stem cells divide more slowly than other cells," said co-author Randall B. Widelitz, Ph.D., associate professor of pathology at the Keck School of Medicine. "The cells in the alligator's dental lamina behaved like we would expect stem cells to behave. In the future, we hope to isolate those cells from the dental lamina to see whether we can use them to regenerate teeth in the lab."

The researchers also intend to learn what molecular networks are involved in repetitive renewal and hope to apply the principles to regenerative medicine in the future.

The authors also report novel cellular mechanisms by which the tooth unit develops in the embryo and molecular signaling that speeds growth of replacement teeth when functional teeth are lost prematurely. Co-authors include colleagues from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, University of Georgia, National Cheng Kung University, National Taiwan University, and Xiangya Hospital in China.

The research was supported by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases through grants 5R01AR042177-19, 5R01AR060306-03 and 2R01AR047364-11A1.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southern California - Health Sciences. The original article was written by Alison Trinidad. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. P. Wu, X. Wu, T.-X. Jiang, R. M. Elsey, B. L. Temple, S. J. Divers, T. C. Glenn, K. Yuan, M.-H. Chen, R. B. Widelitz, C.-M. Chuong. Specialized stem cell niche enables repetitive renewal of alligator teeth. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1213202110

Cite This Page:

University of Southern California - Health Sciences. "Alligator stem cell study gives clues to tooth regeneration." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130514101457.htm>.
University of Southern California - Health Sciences. (2013, May 14). Alligator stem cell study gives clues to tooth regeneration. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130514101457.htm
University of Southern California - Health Sciences. "Alligator stem cell study gives clues to tooth regeneration." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130514101457.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Why Your Boss Should Let You Sleep In

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) According to research out of the University of Pennsylvania, waking up for work is the biggest factor that causes Americans to lose sleep. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins