Klf4 Promotes Dentinogenesis and Odontoblastic Differentiation via Modulation of TGF-β Signaling Pathway and Interaction With Histone Acetylation

Huangheng Tao, Heng Lin, Zheyi Sun, Fei Pei, Jie Zhang, Shuo Chen, Huan Liu, Zhi Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Transcription factors bind to cell-specific cis-regulatory elements, such as enhancers and promoters, to initiate much of the gene expression program of different biological process. Odontoblast differentiation is a necessary step for tooth formation and is also governed by a complex gene regulatory network. Our previous in vitro experiments showed that Krüppel-like factor 4 (KLF4) can promote odontoblastic differentiation of both mouse dental papillary cells (mDPCs) and human dental pulp cells; however, its mechanism remains unclear. We first used Wnt1-Cre; KLF4fx/fx (Klf4 cKO) mice to examine the role of KLF4 during odontoblast differentiation in vivo and demonstrated significantly impaired dentin mineralization and enlarged pulp/root canals. Additionally, combinatory analysis using RNA-seq and ATAC-seq revealed genomewide direct regulatory targets of KLF4 in mouse odontoblasts. We found that KLF4 can directly activate the TGF-β signaling pathway at the beginning of odontoblast differentiation with Runx2 as a cofactor. Furthermore, we found that KLF4 can directly upregulate the expression levels of Dmp1 and Sp7, which are markers of odontoblastic differentiation, through binding to their promoters. Interestingly, as a transcription factor, KLF4 can also recruit histone acetylase as a regulatory companion to the downstream target genes to positively or negatively regulate transcription. To further investigate other regulatory companions of KLF4, we chose histone acetylase HDAC3 and P300. Immunoprecipitation demonstrated that KLF4 interacted with P300 and HDAC3. Next, ChIP analysis detected P300 and HDAC3 enrichment on the promoter region of KLF4 target genes Dmp1 and Sp7. HDAC3 mainly interacted with KLF4 on day 0 of odontoblastic induction, whereas P300 interacted on day 7 of induction. These temporal-specific interactions regulated Dmp1 and Sp7 transcription, thus regulating dentinogenesis. Taken together, these results demonstrated that KLF4 regulates Dmp1 and Sp7 transcription via the modulation of histone acetylation and is vital to dentinogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1502-1516
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Bone and Mineral Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2019


  • Dmp1
  • Klf4
  • Sp7

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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