In a mouse model study, investigators from the University of California, San Francisco’s (UCSF) School of Dentistry and School of Medicine have determined that signals from the surrounding tissue of incisors trigger dental stem cells to change into mature teeth, resulting in the growth of a new tooth. These findings yield new information on tissue regeneration. The study, “An FAKYAP- mTOR Signaling Axis Regulates Stem Cell-Based Tissue Renewal in Mice,” appeared in Cell Stem Cell.
Unlike humans, certain animals, such as mice, elephants and some primates, can grow new teeth continuously once teeth start to wear out. According to UCSF, as a mouse’s incisor is ground down, stem cells inside the jaw are constantly building up the incisor and pushing the growing tooth forward. The team, led by Jimmy Hu, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher in the Klein laboratory, reports that integrins activate a signal that causes stem cells to proliferate. Researchers suspect the external signals responsible for triggering proliferation include the cells’ detection of changes in tissue stiffness, as well as physical forces on the cell. “Our data clearly show that as stem cells move into their designated proliferating space, they ramp up integrin production,” he reports. “These integrins allow the cells to interact with extracellular molecules and expand in number before eventually producing a large pool of mature dental cells.”
From Decisions in Dentistry. June 2017;3(6):11.