State Key Laboratory of Oral Diseases & National Clinical Research Center for Oral Diseases & Department of Cariology and Endodontics, West China Hospital of Stomatology, Sichuan University, No. 14, Section 3, South Renmin Road, Chengdu 610041, PR China. Electronic address: [Email]
OBJECTIVE : This study investigates the role of Wnt7b in mouse dentin formation. METHODS : C57BL/6 mouse tooth germs at different developmental stages were collected to measure the expression of Wnt7b by immunohistochemical staining. The morphology of mandibles of Dmp1-cre;ROSA26-Wnt7b transgenic mice and ROSA26-Wnt7b littermates was analyzed by Micro-CT and HE staining. The ultramicrostructure of dentin was scanned with an electron microscope. Primary mouse dental papillae cells (MDPCs) and odontoblastic cell line (A11) were cultured and infected with adenovirus to overexpress Wnt7b. Cell proliferation and cell apoptosis were evaluated using CCK-8 and flow cytometry. Osteogenic differentiation of MDPCs and A11 was assessed by Alizarin red staining, and qPCR detection of osteogenic gene expression. The activation of signaling pathways was measured by the use of western blot analysis. The ERK1/2 inhibitor was used to test the effect of Wnt7b regulated cell differentiation. RESULTS : Wnt7b was expressed principally in the mouse odontoblast layer after the early bell stage. In transgenic mice, Wnt7b was over-expressed in tooth mesenchyme, with a thinner predentin layer and thicker intertubular dentin. Both the micro-hardness value and the Ca/Pi ratio of dentin of transgenic mice were higher. Wnt7b promoted proliferation and mineralization of MDPCs and A11. The protein level of p-ERK1/2 was found to be higher in A11 infected with Ad-Wnt7b. The ERK signaling pathway inhibitor partly rescued the Wnt7b-induced differentiation of A11. CONCLUSIONS : Wnt7b enhances dentinogenesis by increasing the proliferation and differentiation of dental mesenchymal cells partly through ERK1/2 pathway.