We showed in a previous in vitro study that tributyltin (TBT) arrests dentin mineralization and enamel formation in developing mouse tooth. The present aim was to investigate the effect of TBT on the expression of genes associated with mineralization of dental hard tissues. Embryonic day 18 mouse mandibular first molars were cultured for 3, 5 or 7 days and exposed to 1.0 μM TBT and studied by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-QPCR) for the expressions of osteocalcin (Ocn), alkaline phosphatase (Alpl), dentin matrix protein 1 (Dmp1), dentin sialophosphoprotein (Dspp) and matrix metalloproteinase 20 (Mmp-20).Ocn, Mmp-20 and Dspp, whose expressions showed changes in RT- QPCR, were further analyzed by in situ hybridization of tissue sections. In situ hybridization showed that TBT decreased Ocn expression in odontoblasts but increased the expression in the epithelial tooth compartment. In QPCR assays, the net effect in the whole tooth was increased expression. TBT also reduced Mmp-20 expression in ameloblasts and odontoblasts. Dspp expression varied but both QPCR assays and in situ hybridization showed a decreasing trend. TBT exposure had no clear effect on Alpl and Dmp1 expressions. Increased Ocn expression by epithelial enamel organ may inhibit dentin mineralization and enamel formation. Decreased Ocn, Mmp-20 and Dspp expressions in odontoblasts may indicate delayed cell differentiation, or TBT may specifically decrease the expression of genes involved in dentin mineralization. While decreased Mmp-20 expression by TBT in ameloblasts may impair enamel mineralization, the coincident reduction in Mmp-20 and Dspp expressions in odontoblasts may potentiate the delay of dentin mineralization.
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