The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 39: 605 - 615 (1995)

Vol 39, Issue 4

Differential expression of the full-length and secreted truncated forms of EGF receptor during formation of dental tissues

Published: 30 November -0001

J L Davideau, C Sahlberg, C Blin, P Papagerakis, I Thesleff and A Berdal

INSERM U120, Hôpital Robert Debré, Paris, France.


The developmental regulation of various receptor forms may be a key-element in the local fine tuning of growth factor effects. The present study focuses on the tissue- and stage-specificity of the alternative splicing of EGF receptor transcripts in the rat incisor. In situ hybridization, as well as light- and electron-microscopic immunolocalization were performed with a set of tools which enable us to discriminate the full-length and secreted truncated forms of EGF receptor. Our data show that, apart from a transient expression in differentiating odontoblasts, EGF receptor expression was predominantly observed in the dental epithelium. In the crown, the expression of the full-length EGF receptor was maximal during preameloblast proliferation and differentiation, decreased in differentiated ameloblasts, and remained low throughout enamel secretion. On the other hand, maturation stage ameloblasts, which regulate the final mineralization of enamel, express high levels of the full-length EGF receptor. In contrast with ameloblasts, epithelial supra-ameloblastic cells, which are not directly involved in the deposition of enamel matrix, showed an alternating predominance of the secreted truncated form during the secretion stage, and the full-length form during the maturation stage. The presence of the secreted truncated EGF receptor form was supported by the electron microscopic detection of extracellular aggregates of immunoreactive EGF receptor. Finally, Northern-blotting of enamel organ samples confirmed the presence of transcripts corresponding to mRNAs of both EGF receptor forms. During root formation, a decreasing gradient of full-length EGF receptor form expression was observed from the apical loop to the disrupting zone in root epithelium. The secreted truncated EGF receptor form was essentially detected in epithelial cells of the disrupting zone of root epithelium. During crown formation, the secreted truncated EGF receptor form, which appears to be synthesized by epithelial supra-ameloblastic cells and secreted toward ameloblasts, may competitively bind EGF receptor ligands and modify activation of the full-length EGF receptor.

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