In Vivo and In Vitro Expression of Connexin 43 in Human Teeth

  • About Imad
  • Proust Jean-Pierre
  • Raffo Sylva
  • Mitsiadis Thimios A
  • Franquin Jean-Claude

  • Connexin 43
  • Carious
  • Human
  • Tooth
  • Development
  • Differentiation
  • Mineralization


Gap junctions are composed of transmembrane proteins belonging to the connexin family. These proteins permit the exchange of small regulatory molecules directly between cells for the control of growth, development and differentiation. Although the presence of gap junctions in teeth has been already evidenced, the involved connexins have not yet been identified in human species. Here, we examined the distribution of connexin 43 (Cx43) in embryonic and permanent intact and carious human teeth. During tooth development, Cx43 localized both in epithelial and mesenchymal dental cells, correlated with cytodifferentiation gradients. In adult intact teeth, Cx43 was distributed in odontoblast processes. While Cx43 expression was downregulated in mature intact teeth, Cx43 appeared to be upregulated in odontoblasts facing carious lesions. In cultured pulp cells, Cx43 expression was related to the formation of mineralized nodules. These results indicate that Cx43 expression is developmentally regulated in human dental tissues, and suggest that Cx43 may participate in the processes of dentin formation and pathology.