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(April 2013)
Larry Fisher, Ph.D.DSPP was the last of the SIBLING proteins in evolution.  Today, DSPP is the last SIBLING to be studied in detail.  But the last continues to tell a first-rate-scientific story with plenty of surprises.  more.....

Evolutionary Biology:  Cichlids, Gene Networks, and Teeth​
(February 2009)
A cichlidIn the journal PLOS Biology, NIDCR grantees report they have deduced a network of dental genes in fishes called cichlids that likely were involved in building the first tooth half a billion years ago.  The researchers say their finding introduces into the scientific literature a core evolutionary list of molecular pieces needed to make a tooth.  These original parts were then gradually rewired, replaced, or left in place to produce the various shapes and sizes of teeth now found in nature, from shark to mouse to monkey to human.  The Inside Scoop spoke with Todd Streelman, Ph.D., a scientist at Georgia Tech University in Atlanta and a senior author on the study, to learn more about his group’s discovery.  more...

Dentin Disorders:  The Twists and Turns of Cloning the DSPP Gene
(September 2008) 
Diagram showing part of the normal gene sequenceNIDCR scientists and colleagues offer the first comprehensive look at normal and disease-causing sequence variations in the DSPP gene.  The gene encodes dentin sialophosphoprotein, the major non-collagen protein in the bone-like dentin that forms the inner core of a tooth.  In the 1990s, researchers determined that the DSPP gene is frequently altered in families with histories of dominantly inherited dentin malformations.  Or, more accurately, they discovered that some family members had alterations in the gene’s protein-encoding regions called exons 2 through 4.  Largely missing was an analysis of protein-encoding exon five, a bewilderingly repetitive stretch of sequence that some considered beyond the reach of current cloning and sequencing techniques.  But, as reported in Human Mutation, NIDCR scientists succeeded in cloning exon five, cracking its repetitive genetic code, and gaining truly unexpected insights into the evolutionary biology of the gene and the genetics of inherited dentin malformations.  more...

TP53 and the Prognosis of Head and Neck Cancer
(January 2008)
Wayne Koch, M.D. In the December 20, 2007 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, a team of NIDCR grantees and colleagues evaluated the prognostic value of TP53 mutations in 420 head-and-neck cancer patients treated with surgery only and whose survival was tracked for several years thereafter.  Detecting TP53 alterations in the tumors of 53 percent of participants, the scientists found that collectively these mutations were associated with decreased overall survival.  This was particularly so for a subset of TP53 mutations that affected the ability of its protein to function as a transcription factor.   To hear more about this paper, the Inside Scoop spoke with Dr. Wayne Koch, the senior author on the paper and a scientist and head-and-neck cancer surgeon at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.  more...

Cleft Lip and Palate: Van der Woude Syndrome
(October 2002)
Jeff Murray, M.D.Brian Schutte, Ph.D. After a nearly 20-year search, a team of scientists report in the October 2002 issue of Nature Genetics that it has discovered a gene involved in causing Van der Woude Syndrome, the most common form of syndromic cleft lip and palate. The Inside Scoop recently spoke with two authors on the paper: NIDCR grantees Jeff Murray, M.D., and Brian Schutte, Ph.D., both of whom are scientists in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Iowa. They shared their thoughts on the difficulty in identifying the Van der Woude Syndrome gene, the possible scientific benefits of studying twins, and the implications of this gene discovery on the more common non syndromic cleft lip and palate. more...

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This page last updated: July 31, 2014