Distribution of gap junction protein in maxillary tooth germs of 1-day-old rats was examined by immunohistochemistry, using an affinity-purified antibody specific to residues 360-376 of rat connexin (CX) 43. In 1-day-old rats, the maxillary second molar formed the shape of the cusp, but neither dentine nor enamel was formed between the cells of the dental papilla and the inner enamel epithelium. In the tooth germ, CX 43 was expressed in the cells of the stratum intermedium and the inner enamel epithelium. Labelling in the stratum inter-medium was extensive and showed an increasing gradient from peripheral to cuspal regions. CX 43 detected in the inner enamel epithelium was at cell surfaces facing the interface between the dental papilla and the inner enamel epithelium. The cells of the dental papilla and the inner enamel epithelium began differentiation as odontoblasts and secretory ameloblasts respectively, in the cusps of the first molars, where predentine and dentine were formed but enamel matrix was not secreted. CX 43 was present in the stratum intermedium, inner enamel epithelium, preodontoblasts, odontoblasts and subodontoblasts. The incisors showed the most advanced stage of development, where the enamel matrix and calcified dentine were formed in the labial part of the teeth. The CX 43 epitope was seen in the stratum intermedium, inner enamel epithelium, preameloblasts, preodontoblasts, odontoblasts, and subodontoblasts. Immunolabelling was more extensive in the stratum intermedium and subodontoblasts than in preameloblasts, preodontoblasts, and odontoblasts. The immunolabelling in preameloblasts and preodontoblasts was accumulated at cell surfaces facing the predentine. Further, the labelling in preameloblasts and preodontoblasts disappeared or was reduced at the initiation of enamel matrix secretion and calcification of dentine matrix. The present results suggest that gap junctional cell communication has important roles in tooth development. Further, the extensive CX 43 expression in the stratum intermedium and the subodontoblast layer suggests that gap junctions have an important role in amelogenesis and dentinogenesis.
- Connexin 43
- Rat maxillary tooth germs