The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 45: 733 - 742 (2001)

Vol 45, Issue 5-6

Cell-matrix interactions and cell-cell junctions during epithelial histo-morphogenesis in the developing mouse incisor

Published: 1 September 2001

S Kieffer-Combeau, J M Meyer and H Lesot

INSERM U424, Institut de Biologie Médicale, Faculté de Médecine, Strasbourg, France.


The continuously growing rodent incisor develops mainly along its antero-posterior axis. The labio-lingual asymmetry which characterizes this tooth is initiated at the cap stage and increases further during the cap to bell transition (ED14 to ED16) when histogenesis of the enamel organ proceeds. Histology, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and immunostaining were used to document the changes in the basement membrane (BM) as well as the modifications of epithelial cell-matrix and cell-cell interactions during this period. The expression of plakoglobin, desmoglein and E-cadherin at ED14 suggested that the main cell-cell junctional complexes were adherens junctions. The expression of desmoglein and TEM observations suggested a progressive antero-posterior stabilization of the enamel organ by means of desmosomes from ED14 to ED18. alpha6 integrin, BP 230 and laminin gamma2 chain were all expressed in the developing incisor but were not always co-distributed. Immunostaining and TEM suggested that only primitive type II hemidesmosomes were present. At ED14, cells of the enamel knot (EK) did not show any specific expression for antigens involved in cell-cell interaction. However, strong staining for the laminin gamma2 chain characterized the BM in contact with EK cells. The BM in the labial part of the cervical loop demonstrated ultrastructural changes: the presence of loops of the lamina densa in this region preceeded the differential expression of the integrin alpha6 subunit and that of the laminin gamma2 chain in the labial/lingual parts of the cervical loop. Apoptosis was transiently observed in the contiguous mesenchyme. This affected osteoblasts and also nerve cells close to the labial part of the cervical loop.

Full text in web format is not available for this article. Please download the PDF version.