Development (Cambridge, England)

An Nfic-hedgehog signaling cascade regulates tooth root development.

PMID 26293299


Coordination between the Hertwig's epithelial root sheath (HERS) and apical papilla (AP) is crucial for proper tooth root development. The hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway and Nfic are both involved in tooth root development; however, their relationship has yet to be elucidated. Here, we establish a timecourse of mouse molar root development by histological staining of sections, and we demonstrate that Hh signaling is active before and during root development in the AP and HERS using Gli1 reporter mice. The proper pattern of Hh signaling activity in the AP is crucial for the proliferation of dental mesenchymal cells, because either inhibition with Hh inhibitors or constitutive activation of Hh signaling activity in transgenic mice leads to decreased proliferation in the AP and shorter roots. Moreover, Hh activity is elevated in Nfic(-/-) mice, a root defect model, whereas RNA sequencing and in situ hybridization show that the Hh attenuator Hhip is downregulated. ChIP and RNAscope analyses suggest that Nfic binds to the promoter region of Hhip. Treatment of Nfic(-/-) mice with Hh inhibitor partially restores cell proliferation, AP growth and root development. Taken together, our results demonstrate that an Nfic-Hhip-Hh signaling pathway is crucial for apical papilla growth and proper root formation. This discovery provides insight into the molecular mechanisms regulating tooth root development.