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Emulating the early phases of human tooth development in vitro

Rosowski, Jennifer; Bräunig, Julia; Amler, Anna-Klara; Strietzel, Frank P.; Lauster, Roland; Rosowski, Mark

FG Medizinische Biotechnologie

Functional in vitro models emulating the physiological processes of human organ formation are invaluable for future research and the development of regenerative therapies. Here, a developmentally inspired approach is pursued to reproduce fundamental steps of human tooth organogenesis in vitro using human dental pulp cells. Similar to the in vivo situation of tooth initiating mesenchymal condensation, a 3D self-organizing culture was pursued resulting in an organoid of the size of a human tooth germ with odontogenic marker expression. Furthermore, the model is capable of epithelial invagination into the condensed mesenchyme, mimicking the reciprocal tissue interactions of human tooth development. Comprehensive transcriptome analysis revealed activation of well-studied as well as rather less investigated signaling pathways implicated in human tooth organogenesis, such as the Notch signaling. Early condensation in vitro revealed a shift to the TGFß signal transduction pathway and a decreased RhoA small GTPase activity, connected to the remodeling of the cytoskeleton and actin-mediated mechanotransduction. Therefore, this in vitro model of tooth development provides a valuable model to study basic human developmental mechanisms.