Tooth and scale morphogenesis in shark

paper8Published on 24. December 2015

Tooth and scale morphogenesis in shark: an alternative process to the mammalian enamel knot system

Mélanie Debiais-Thibaud, Roxane Chiori, Sébastien Enault, Silvan Oulion,
Isabelle Germon, Camille Martinand-Mari, Didier Casane, Véronique Borday-Birraux


The gene regulatory network involved in tooth morphogenesis has been extremely well described in mammals and its modeling has allowed predictions of variations in regulatory pathway that may have led to evolution of tooth shapes. However, very little is known outside of mammals to understand how this regulatory framework may also account for tooth shape evolution at the level of gnathostomes. In this work, we describe expression patterns and proliferation/apoptosis assays to uncover homologous regulatory pathways in the catshark Scyliorhinus canicula.

Because of their similar structural and developmental features, gene expression patterns were described over the four developmental stages of both tooth and scale buds in the catshark. These gene expression patterns differ from mouse tooth development, and discrepancies are also observed between tooth and scale development within the catshark. However, a similar nested expression of Shh and Fgf suggests similar signaling involved in morphogenesis of all structures, although apoptosis assays do not support a strictly equivalent enamel knot system in sharks. Similarities in the topology of gene expression pattern, including Bmp signaling pathway, suggest that mouse molar development is more similar to scale bud development in the catshark.

These results support the fact that no enamel knot, as described in mammalian teeth, can be described in the morphogenesis of shark teeth or scales. However, homologous signaling pathways are involved in growth and morphogenesis with variations in their respective expression patterns. We speculate that variations in this topology of expression are also a substrate for tooth shape evolution, notably in regulating the growth axis and symmetry of the developing structure.

BMC Evolutionary Biology 2015, 15:292, DOI: 10.1186/s12862-015-0557-0



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