On March 14, 2015, at the 93rd General Session and Exhibition of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) in Boston, researcher Dr. Olivier Duverger, National Institutes of Health-National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Bethesda, Md., USA, presented a study titled "Hair Keratins As Structural Organic Components of Mature Enamel: The Link Between Hair Disorders and Susceptibility to Dental Caries." The IADR General Session is being held in conjunction with the 44th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Dental Research and the 39th Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association for Dental Research. Hair and teeth are ectodermal appendages that share common developmental mechanisms. However, the major structural components making up hair and teeth are very distinct. The hair shaft is essentially made of keratin filaments that are highly cross-linked. Tooth enamel matrix is primarily composed of enamel proteins (amelogenin, ameloblastin) that are degraded and replaced by minerals during enamel maturation. Fully mineralized enamel contains a small fraction of cross-linked organic material that has not been fully characterized. In this study, researchers assessed the presence and functionality of a specific set of hair keratins in this organic fraction of enamel. Transcriptomic analysis was performed on the enamel organ from conditional knockout mice lacking the transcription factor distal-less homeobox 3 (DLX3), previously shown to regulate hair keratin expression in the hair follicle. Immunolocalization of hair keratins was performed on mouse enamel organ and mature human enamel. Utilizing data from genetic and intra-oral examination, the researchers tested the association of polymorphisms in hair keratins with dental caries susceptibility.
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