Odontomas, developmental anomalies of tooth germ, frequently occur in familial adenomatous polyposis patients with activated Wnt/β-catenin signaling. However, roles of Wnt/β-catenin signaling in odontomas or odontogenic cells are unclear. Herein, we investigated β-catenin expression in odontomas and functions of Wnt/β-catenin signaling in tooth germ development. β-catenin frequently accumulated in nucleus and/or cellular cytoplasm of odontogenic epithelial cells in human odontoma specimens, immunohistochemically. Wnt/β-catenin signaling inhibited odontogenic epithelial cell proliferation in both cell line and tooth germ development, while inducing immature epithelial bud formation. We identified Semaphorin 3A (Sema3A) as a downstream molecule of Wnt/β-catenin signaling and showed that Wnt/β-catenin signaling-dependent reduction of Sema3A expression resulted in suppressed odontogenic epithelial cell proliferation. Sema3A expression is required in appropriate epithelial budding morphogenesis. These results suggest that Wnt/β-catenin signaling negatively regulates odontogenic epithelial cell proliferation and tooth germ development through decreased-Sema3A expression, and aberrant activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling may associate with odontoma formation.
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