Histochemistry and cell biology

The dynamics of DNA methylation and hydroxymethylation during amelogenesis.

PMID 26209269


Amelogenesis is a multistep process that relies on specific temporal and spatial signaling networks between the dental epithelium and mesenchymal tissues. Epigenetic modifications of key developmental genes in this process may be closely linked to a network of molecular events. However, the role of epigenetic regulation in amelogenesis remains unclear. Here, we have uncovered the spatial distributions of 5-methylcytosine (5-mC) and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5-hmC) to determine epigenetic events in the mandibular incisors of mice. Immunohistochemistry and dot blotting showed that 5-hmC in ameloblasts increased from the secretory stage to the later maturation stage. We also demonstrated the distribution of 5-mC-positive ameloblasts with punctate nuclear labeling from sometime after the initiation of the secretory stage to the later maturation stage; however, dot blotting failed to detect this change. No obvious alteration of 5-mC/5-hmC staining in odontoblasts and dental pulp cells was observed. Concomitant with quantitative expression data, immunohistochemistry showed that maintenance DNA methyltransferase DNMT1 was highly expressed in immature dental epithelial cells and subsequently decreased at later stages of development. Meanwhile, de novo DNA methyltransferase Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b and DNA demethylase Tet family genes were universally expressed, except Tet1 that was highly expressed in immature dental epithelial cells. Thus, DNMT1 may sustain the undifferentiated status of dental epithelial cells through the maintenance of DNA methylation, while the hydroxylation of 5-mC may occur through the whole differentiation process by TET activity. Taken together, these data indicate that the dynamic changes of 5-mC and 5-hmC may be critical for the regulation of amelogenesis.