Understanding the molecular genetics of odontogenesis (tooth development) can unlock innovative avenues to genetically engineer teeth for therapy. In this review, emerging insights into the genetic and molecular bases of tooth development are presented. Four conserved signature genes express master molecules (fibroblast growth factors, bone morphogenetic proteins, wingless integrated ligands and sonic hedgehog protein) that underwrite odontogenesis. Five homeobox genes (Barx1, Dlx, Pax9, Msx and Pitx) and many secondary molecules (notably transcription factors) mediate signalling pathways that drive tooth initiation, morphogenesis and differentiation. The role of at least 57 genes and signalling molecules are presented in this work.
Key words: Genes, signalling molecules, odontogenesis.
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