Expression of neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) during the first molar development in the mouse
Abstract NCAM, the neural cell adhesion molecule, was immunolocalized in the mandibular first molar tooth germ of the mouse. NCAM was first detected in the tooth germ of the late bud stage, where only the cells in the outer part of the condensed mesenchyme (primitive dental follicle) exhibited faint immunoreactivity. The entire dental follicle was intensely immunostained for NCAM from cap stage to the stage when root formation started. During root formation, NCAM disappeared from the follicular tissue surrounding the cervical root as well as from the part covering the crown top. This loss of NCAM proceeded in the direction of the root apex, but even after the tooth had achieved functional occlusion, NCAM was still expressed by the mesenchymal cells adjacent to the root apex. On the other hand, NCAM was negative in the dental papilla until birth. After birth, NCAM-immunoreactivity appeared in the basal portion of the dental papilla, but this NCAM-positive area gradually diminished in width during the root elongation. Instead, another NCAM-positive zone appeared in the core of the pulp during root formation. Even in the tooth that had already erupted, the pulp core contained cells that were strongly positive for NCAM immunostaining. In addition to its expression in the above two mesenchymal cell lineages, NCAM was transiently expressed by epithelial components of the tooth germ, some of the cells of the dental lamina and the enamel organ. The results suggest that NCAM participates in several processes of tooth development.
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