Z. Cao, H. Zhang, X. Zhou, X. Han, Y. Ren, T. Gao, Y Xiao, B. de Crombrugghe, M.J. Somerman, J.Q. Feng
To date, attempts to regenerate a complete tooth, including the critical periodontal tissues associated with the tooth root, have not been successful. Controversy still exists regarding the origin of the cell source for cellular cementum (epithelial or mesenchymal). This disagreement may be partially due to a lack of understanding of the events leading to the initiation and development of the tooth roots and supportive tissues, such as the cementum. Osterix (OSX) is a transcriptional factor essential for osteogenesis, but its role in cementogenesis has not been addressed. In the present study, we first documented a close relationship between the temporal- and spatial-expression pattern of OSX and the formation of cellular cementum. We then generated 3.6 Col 1-OSX transgenic mice, which displayed accelerated cementum formation vs. WT controls. Importantly, the conditional deletion of OSX in the mesenchymal cells with two different Cre systems (the 2.3 kb Col 1 and an inducible CAG-CreER) led to a sharp reduction in cellular cementum formation (including the cementum mass and mineral deposition rate) and gene expression of dentin matrix protein 1 (DMP1) by cementocytes. However, the deletion of the OSX gene after cellular cementum formed did not alter the properties of the mature cementum as evaluated by backscattered SEM and resin-cast SEM. Transient transfection of Osx in the cementoblasts in vitro significantly inhibited cell proliferation and increased cell differentiation and mineralization. Taken together, these data support 1) the mesenchymal origin of cellular cementum (from PDL progenitor cells); 2) the vital role of OSX in controlling the formation of cellular cementum; and 3) the limited remodeling of cellular cementum in adult mice.