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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Analysis of tooth replacement in adult leopard geckos Holmes, Scott


Though most dentate vertebrates replace their teeth at least once in the course of their lives, the process of tooth replacement is poorly understood. This is mainly because the major tooth development model is the mouse which only has one generation of teeth. Our previous work suggested that tooth renewal in geckos might involve dental epithelial stem cells and that these putative stem cells become transit- amplifying cells when exposed to canonical WNTs. Here we further investigate this idea using adult leopard geckos (Eublepharis macularius). To further previous findings from our lab that the dental apparatus is a WNT responsive tissue we perturbed the WNT pathway by agonist and antagonist organ cultures of oral tissue explants. BIO stimulated proliferation at an intermediate concentration of 20 μM but not at higher or lower concentrations. This suggests that in vivo, cells are responding to gradients of WNT activity. We also looked at associated BMP and FGF pathways via in situ histology and organ culture manipulation respectively and found alternating patterns of gene expression. We then mapped areas of high canonical WNT signaling and found that nuclear staining for phospho beta catenin was principally found in the outer enamel epithelium and successional lamina. We moved to an in vivo strategy to allow for better tissue survival. Palatal injections of LiCl or the control reagent NaCl were delivered to the base of the maxillary teeth. We found that LiCl increased proliferation in the successional lamina and cervical loops, areas that normally have higher proliferation. We conclude that certain regions of the dental epithelium are sensitive to change in canonical WNT signaling and that this signaling is potentially kept to a localized region via BMP inhibition of the WNT pathway. Regions of the dental lamina that contain putative stem cells may require signals in addition to WNTs to stimulate the formation of transit amplifying cells. Future work will further elucidate the many signaling cascades required for tooth succession to occur.

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