Demethylation of SFRP2 by histone demethylase KDM2A regulated osteo-/dentinogenic differentiation of stem cells of the apical papilla

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Dental mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are easily obtained; however, mechanisms underlying directed differentiation of these cells remains unclear. Wnt/β-catenin signalling is essential for mesenchymal cell commitment and differentiation, and Wnt inhibition is linked to stem cell maintenance and function. Secreted frizzled-related protein 2 (SFRP2) competes with the Frizzled receptor for direct binding to Wnt and blocks activation of Wnt signalling. Here, we used stem cells derived from apical papillae (SCAPs) to study the functions of SFRP2.

Materials and methods:

SCAPs were isolated from apical papillae of immature third molars. The cells were analysed using alkaline phosphatase activity assays, Alizarin red staining and quantitative calcium measurements. In addition, we evaluated expression profile of genes associated with osteogenesis and dentinogenesis (osteo-/dentinogenesis), and conducted in vivo transplantation experiments to determine osteo-/dentinogenic differentiation potential of SCAPs. ChIP assays were used to detect histone methylation at the SFRP2 promoter.


We found that SFRP2 enhanced osteo-/dentinogenic differentiation via Osterix, a key transcription factor in SCAPs. Furthermore, silencing SFRP2 induced SCAP cell death in osteogenic-inducing medium, indicating that SFRP2 is a key factor in maintaining SCAP survival following osteo-/dentinogenic commitment. Moreover, we found that silencing KDM2A, a histone demethylase and BCL6 co-repressor, de-repressed SFRP2 transcription by increasing histone H3K4 and H3K36 methylation at the SFRP2 promoter.


Our results have identified a new function of SFRP2 and shed new light on the molecular mechanism underlying directed differentiation of stem cells of dental origin.

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