The skeletal system consists of bones and teeth, both of which are hardened via mineralization to support daily physical activity and mastication. The precise mechanism for this process, especially how blood vessels contribute to tissue mineralization, remains incompletely understood. Here, we established an imaging technique to visualize the 3D structure of the tooth vasculature at a single-cell level. Using this technique combined with single-cell RNA sequencing, we identified a unique endothelial subtype specialized to dentinogenesis, a process of tooth mineralization, termed periodontal tip-like endothelial cells. These capillaries exhibit high angiogenic activity and plasticity under the control of odontoblasts; in turn, the capillaries trigger odontoblast maturation. Metabolomic analysis demonstrated that the capillaries perform the phosphate delivery required for dentinogenesis. Taken together, our data identified the fundamental cell-to-cell communications that orchestrate tooth formation, angiogenic–odontogenic coupling, a distinct mechanism compared to the angiogenic–osteogenic coupling in bones. This mechanism contributes to our understanding concerning the functional diversity of organotypic vasculature.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy