Nerve growth factor (NGF) supports tooth morphogenesis in mouse first branchial arch explants

Osamu Amano, Pablo Bringas, Ichiro Takahashi, Katsu Takahashi, Akira Yamane, Yang Chai, Glen H. Nuckolls, Lillian Shum, Harold C. Slavkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Posterior midbrain and anterior hindbrain neuroectoderm transdifferentiate into cranial neural crest cells (CNCC), emigrate from the neural folds, and become crest-derived ectomesenchyme within the mandibular and maxillary processes. To investigate the growth factor requirement specific for the initiation of tooth morphogenesis, we designed studies to test whether nerve growth factor (NGF) can support odontogenesis in a first branchial arch (FBA) explant culture system. FBA explants containing neural- fold tissues before CNCC emigration and the anlagen of the FBA were microdissected from embryonic day 8 (E8) mouse embryos, and cultured for 8 days in medium supplemented with 10% fetal calf serum only, or serum- containing medium further supplemented with either NGF or epidermal growth factor (EGF) at three different concentrations: 50, 100, or 200 ng/ml. Morphological, morphometric, and total protein analyses indicated that growth and development in all groups were comparable. Meckel's cartilage and tongue formation were also observed in all groups. However, odontogenesis was only detected in explants cultured in the presence of exogenous NGF. NGF- supplemented cultures were permissive for bud stage (50 ng/ml) as well as cap stage of tooth morphogenesis (100 and 200 ng/ml). Morphometric analyses of the volume of tooth organs showed a significant dose-dependent increase in tooth volume as the concentration of NGF increased. Whole-mount in situ hybridization and semiquantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction for Pax9, a molecular marker of dental mesenchyme, further supported and confirmed the morphological data of the specificity and dose dependency of NGF on odontogenesis. We conclude that (1) E8 FBA explants contain premigratory CNCC that are capable of emigration, proliferation, and differentiation in vitro; (2) serum-supplemented medium is permissive for CNCC differentiation into tongue myoblasts and chondrocytes in FBA explants; and (3) NGF controls CNCC cell fate specification and differentiation into tooth organs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-310
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental Dynamics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental Biology


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