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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Expression of SHH signaling molecules in the developing human primary dentition

Xuefeng Hu1, Shuo Zhang1, Guimiao Chen1, Chensheng Lin1, Zhen Huang1, YiPing Chen12* and Yanding Zhang1*

Author Affiliations

1 Fujian Key Laboratory of Developmental and Neuro Biology, College of Life Science, Fujian Normal University, Fuzhou, Fujian, 350108, P.R. China

2 Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, 70118, USA

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BMC Developmental Biology 2013, 13:11  doi:10.1186/1471-213X-13-11

Published: 8 April 2013



Our current knowledge on tooth development derives primarily from studies in mice. Very little is known about gene expression and function during human odontogenesis. Sonic Hedgehog (SHH) signaling has been demonstrated to play crucial roles in the development of multiple organs in mice, including the tooth. However, if SHH signaling molecules are expressed and function in the developing human embryonic tooth remain unknown.


We conducted microarray assay to reveal the expression profile of SHH signaling pathway molecules. We then used in situ hybridization to validate and reveal spatial and temporal expression patterns of a number of selected molecules, including SHH, PTC1, SMO, GLI1, GLI2, and GLI3, in the developing human embryonic tooth germs, and compared them with that in mice. We found that all these genes exhibit similar but slightly distinct expression patterns in the human and mouse tooth germ at the cap and bell stages.


Our results demonstrate the operation of active SHH signaling in the developing human tooth and suggest a conserved function of SHH signaling pathway during human odontogenesis.

Deciduous tooth; Tooth development; Gene expression; SHH; PTC; SMO; GLI