eCM (Eur Cell Mater / e Cells & Materials) Not-for-profit Open Access
Created by Scientists, for Scientists
 ISSN:1473-2262         NLM:100973416 (link)         DOI:10.22203/eCM

2017   Volume No 34 – pages 249-270

Title: Notch/Wnt cross-signalling regulates stemness of dental pulp stem cells through expression of neural crest and core pluripotency factors

Authors: V Uribe-Etxebarria, J Luzuriaga, P García-Gallastegui, A Agliano, F Unda, G Ibarretxe

Address:  Cell Biology and Histology Department, Faculty of Medicine and Nursing, University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), Barrio Sarriena S/N, 48940 Leioa, Spain

E-mail: gaskon.ibarretxe at

Key Words: Dental pulp stem cells, multipotency, self-renewal, pluripotency core factors, neural crest, stemness and differentiation, osteogenesis, adipogenesis, Notch, Wnt, BIO, DAPT, Wnt-3a.

Publication date: November 1st 2017

Abstract: Dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs) from adult teeth express neural crest (NC) markers together with core transcriptional factors associated with stem cell pluripotency, such as Oct4a, Sox2, c-Myc, Rex1, Stella/Dppa3, Ssea1/Fut4, Lin28 and Nanog. The possibility to boost the natural stemness features of DPSCs by mild methods, that do not involve gene and/or chromatin modification or gene transfection, is highly desirable for cell therapy. Canonical Wnt and Notch are two highly conserved developmental signalling pathways that are involved in NC emergence and stem cell self-renewal. We determined that both pathways coordinate to regulate the expression of core pluripotency and NC factors in DPSCs. Pharmacological inhibition of the Notch pathway for 48 h, by the γ-secretase inhibitor N-[N-(3,5-Difluorophenacetyl)-L-alanyl]-S-phenylglycine t-butyl ester (DAPT), abolished the expression of NC and core factors. In addition, it induced a silencing of the canonical Wnt signalling and a clear reduction in the stemness potential of DPSCs, as shown by a reduced ability to generate mature, fully differentiated osteoblasts and adipocytes. Conversely, pharmacological activation of the Wnt pathway for 48 h, by either the glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta (GSK3-β) inhibitor 6-bromoindirubin-3´-oxime (BIO) or the human recombinant protein Wnt-3a, not only largely increased the expression of NC and core factors, but also increased the efficiency of DPSCs to differentiate into mature osteoblasts and adipocytes. These results showed that a short preconditioning activation of Wnt/Notch signalling by small molecules and/or recombinant proteins enhanced the stemness and potency of DPSCs in culture, which could be useful for optimising the therapeutic use of these and other tissue-specific stem cells.

Article download: Pages 249-270 (PDF file)