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UTHSC researcher helps develop mouse model for tooth disorder

San Antonio (July 15, 2003) — Mary J. MacDougall, Ph.D., of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSC), is among a national group of scientists who have worked out a new mouse model for dentinogenesis imperfecta III, a hereditary disorder in which the dentin, the primary mass of a tooth, is malformed. Understanding the disorder should lead to new understandings of how teeth form and development of treatments for the disorder.

The team, sponsored by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), reported findings in the July 4 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Dr. MacDougall is professor of pediatric dentistry and associate dean for research in the UTHSC Dental School. The NIDCR's Dr. Ashok Kulkarni was lead investigator.

By inactivating or deleting a gene called dentin sialophosphoprotein (DSPP), the scientists were able to establish tooth discoloration, large pulp cavities and pulp exposure in the mice. Dentin, a hard material similar to bone, proved to be abnormal. Dentin is the layer between the hard outer enamel of the tooth and the softer pulp core.

Dental researchers have identified three subtypes of dentinogenesis imperfecta, which affects an estimated 1 in 8,000 newborns in this country. The abnormal dentin causes the teeth to be very brittle, putting sufferers at high risk for early tooth loss requiring dentures or implants.

"We have been limited due to the lack of an animal model for this disease," Dr. MacDougall said. "Production of this mouse model provides exciting new possibilities."

Contact: Will Sansom or Lucie Portela