Early dental epithelial transcription factors distinguish ameloblastoma from keratocystic odontogenic tumor

K. Heikinheimo*, K. J. Kurppa, A. Laiho, S. Peltonen, A. Berdal, A. Bouattour, B. Ruhin, J. Catón, I. Thesleff, I. Leivo, P. R. Morgan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of the study was to characterize the molecular relationship between ameloblastoma and keratocystic odontogenic tumor (KCOT) by means of a genome-wide expression analysis. Total RNA from 27 fresh tumor samples of 15 solid/multicystic intraosseous ameloblastomas and 12 sporadic KCOTs was hybridized on Affymetrix whole genome arrays. Hierarchical clustering separated ameloblastomas and KCOTs into 2 distinct groups. The gene set enrichment analysis based on 303 dental genes showed a similar separation of ameloblastomas and KCOTs. Early dental epithelial markers PITX2, MSX2, DLX2, RUNX1, and ISL1 were differentially overexpressed in ameloblastoma, indicating its dental identity. Also, PTHLH, a hormone involved in tooth eruption and invasive growth, was one of the most differentially upregulated genes in ameloblastoma. The most differentially overexpressed genes in KCOT were squamous epithelial differentiation markers SPRR1A, KRTDAP, and KRT4, as well as DSG1, a component of desmosomal cell-cell junctions. Additonally, the epithelial stem cell marker SOX2 was significantly upregulated in KCOT when compared with ameloblastoma. Taken together, the gene expression profile of ameloblastoma reflects differentiation from dental lamina toward the cap/bell stage of tooth development, as indicated by dental epithelium-specific transcription factors. In contrast, gene expression of KCOT indicates differentiation toward keratinocytes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-111
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Dental Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2015


  • dental lamina
  • epithelial stem cell
  • gene expression
  • keratocystic odontogenic tumor
  • tooth germ
  • tumor bioinformatics


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