The study of neurogenetic disorders like Angelman, Rett and fragile X syndromes as well as autism spectrum disorders has depended largely on the analysis of gene/protein expression in non-neuronal biospecimens like lymphoblast and fibroblast cel lines. Although some analysis has been possible in post-mortem human brain tissue for neurogenetic syndromes, this tissue is often of variable quality and in limited amounts. Recently there has been an initiative to induce pluripotent stem cels (iPSCs) from patient fibroblasts and differentiate these iPSCs into various neuronal lineages. There are several problems with this approach: 1) fibroblasts must be obtained though a fairly invasive skin biopsy which leaves a scar and causes undue pain and distress in developmentally disabled or autistic children;3) induction of fibroblasts into stem cells (reprogramming) and then into neuronal lineages is a laborious task that may not maintain epigenetic marks on the DNA that are essential to proper gene regulation in the native neuronal tissues;and 4) viral vectors which are themselves immunogenic are used to reprogram iPSCs limiting the downstream aplication of these neurons for therapeutic transplantations. Here we propose to use dental pulps from exfoliated primary teeth (EPT), as a source of stem cells for the study of a variety of neurogenetic syndromes. Dental pulp stem cells differentiate into functional neurons in vitro and in vivo. Dental pulps from EPT are also an easily obtainable source of cranial neural crest (CNC) cells. The majority of the cells in the peripheral nervous system, including neurons, are derived from the neural crest. Based on the extensive collaborative sum of our expertise in genetics, dental pulp stem cells and neurophysiology, we feel that this novel approach will provide a fresh perspective to the way we study expresion changes, epigenetics and neurophysiology in an ex-vivo model system for human neurogenetic disorders. !

Public Health Relevance

The primary goal of this proposal is to develop a method to investigate the neurons of patients with neurogenetic disease that uses shed teeth (primary teeth or puled teeth). If we can determine that tooth samples provide the right type of cells in the dental pulp to make neurons in culture we will have a new way to look at the gene expression and physiology of these patient-derived neurons. Having these cultures could lead to new insights into the mechanisms of human neurogenetic disease and even normal neuronal development and function.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Therapeutic Approaches to Genetic Diseases (TAG)
Program Officer
Mamounas, Laura
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Tennessee Health Science Center
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Urraca, Nora; Hope, Kevin; Victor, A Kaitlyn et al. (2018) Significant transcriptional changes in 15q duplication but not Angelman syndrome deletion stem cell-derived neurons. Mol Autism 9:6
Victor, A Kaitlyn; Reiter, Lawrence T (2017) Dental pulp stem cells for the study of neurogenetic disorders. Hum Mol Genet 26:R166-R171
Dunaway, Keith; Goorha, Sarita; Matelski, Lauren et al. (2017) Dental Pulp Stem Cells Model Early Life and Imprinted DNA Methylation Patterns. Stem Cells 35:981-988
Goorha, Sarita; Reiter, Lawrence T (2017) Culturing and Neuronal Differentiation of Human Dental Pulp Stem Cells. Curr Protoc Hum Genet 92:21.6.1-21.6.10
Ikbale, El-Ayachi; Goorha, Sarita; Reiter, Lawrence T et al. (2016) Effects of hTERT immortalization on osteogenic and adipogenic differentiation of dental pulp stem cells. Data Brief 6:696-9
Urraca, Nora; Potter, Brian; Hundley, Rachel et al. (2016) A Rare Inherited 15q11.2-q13.1 Interstitial Duplication with Maternal Somatic Mosaicism, Renal Carcinoma, and Autism. Front Genet 7:205
Urraca, Nora; Memon, Rawaha; El-Iyachi, Ikbale et al. (2015) Characterization of neurons from immortalized dental pulp stem cells for the study of neurogenetic disorders. Stem Cell Res 15:722-730
Wilson, Ryan; Urraca, Nora; Skobowiat, Cezary et al. (2015) Assessment of the Tumorigenic Potential of Spontaneously Immortalized and hTERT-Immortalized Cultured Dental Pulp Stem Cells. Stem Cells Transl Med 4:905-12