The transcription factors Runx2 and Osx are necessary for osteoblast and odontoblast differentiation, while Dspp is important for odontoblast differentiation. The relationship among Runx2, Osx, and Dspp during tooth and craniofacial bone development remains unknown. In this study, we hypothesized that the roles of Runx2 and Osx in the regulation of osteoblast and odontoblast lineages may be independent of one another. The results showed that Runx2 expression overlapped with Osx in dental and osteogenic mesenchyme from E12 to E16. At the later stages, from E18 to PN14, Runx2 and Osx expressions remained intense in alveolar bone osteoblasts. However, Runx2 expression was down-regulated, whereas Osx expression was clearly seen in odontoblasts. At later stages, Dspp transcription was weakly present in osteoblasts, but strong in odontoblasts where Osx was highly expressed. In mouse odontoblast-like cells, Osx overexpression increased Dspp transcription. Analysis of these data suggests differential biological functions of Runx2, Osx, and Dspp during odontogenesis and osteogenesis. Abbreviations: E, embryonic day; PN, post-natal day; Dspp, dentin sialophosphoprotein; Osx, Osterix.
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