It is a known fact that people can not restore their tooth enamel, and if it is damaged as a result of an improper dental care, poor diet or other factors, we have nothing else to do but visit our dentist and place a type of tooth filling. This is explained by the phenomenon that the cells that produce our tooth enamel (which are called ameloblasts) are meant to retire after the necessary amount of enamel to cover up out mature teeth is produced. Nowadays, the scientists found out what gene is responsible for tooth enamel formation and quality.
A group of specialists at the University of Manchester, leaded by Dr. James O’Sullivan analyzed the genomes of the members of the same family. At that, four of the relatives shared the a certain genetic disorder known as amelogenesis imperfecta, which is associated with too weak and thin tooth enamel, and the rest five members of the same family were not diagnosed with the mentioned disease. Further, genetic samples were compared to more than nine hundred other genetic samples taken from other people who did not have the signs of the mentioned disorder.
It turned out that the family members affected by the disorder had mutations in both copies of FAM20A gene, and those relatives who did not have the disorder had only one copy of the gene affected by mutations. No other genetic sample taken from other people had the stated type of mutation. The researchers also noticed that in mice, extremely high rates of normal FAM20A gene could be found during the maturing period of ameloblasts, supporting the theory that FAM20A has a great importance for healthy tooth enamel formation.
Other specialists are trying to find some explanation of the discovered phenomenon. An expert at the University of Western Australia in Crawley, Tony Phan, supposes that the gene produces a type of protein which can stimulate the production of tooth enamel cells by in some way binding to ameloblasts. If this theory will find scientific evidence, there can be a way opened to using this protein for reactivation of ameloblasts and making them produce new tooth enamel sells when the tooth is decaying or is damaged. Read more about this interesting study and its findings in the latest issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics.