Cell and Tissue Research, Vol.347(2) : 479~484, 2012
The root apex of the tooth elongates until the completion of root development. Although the signaling molecules inducing root elongation have been studied, the characteristic of the cells having the ability to maintain the root elongation remains unclear. This study aimed to investigate the characteristics of the cells involved in the root elongation. Octamer-binding factor 3/4 (Oct3/4) is known as one of the key regulators in maintaining the pluripotency and self-renewal properties of embryonic stem cells. Bmi1, the polycomb-group transcriptional repressor, has emerged as a key regulator in several cellular processes including stem cell self-renewal and cancer cell proliferation. At the beginning of root formation, ameloblasts expressed Oct3/4 in the nucleus, except in the apex of the cervical loop, in which Bmi1and cyclinD were expressed. At PN6, the expression of Oct3/4 in the ameloblasts shifted from the nucleus to the cytoplasm, whereas ameloblastin-negative Hertwig's epithelial root sheath (HERS) cells expressed Bmi1 and cyclinD. By PN10, the cells in the apex of HERS began to express Oct3/4 in their nucleus, whereas Bmi1 and cyclinD began to decrease in their expressions. The odontoblasts consistently expressed Oct3/4 in their cytoplasm. Our results suggest that (1) Oct3/4 creates the border between the ameloblasts from the proliferative region of HERS, (2) Bmi1-positive cells would be one of the candidates resulting in root elongation and (3) the Oct3/4 expression in the cytoplasm of odontoblasts may be related to maintain the odontoblastic characteristics.