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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Epigenetic influences may explain dental differences in monozygotic twin pairs.

BACKGROUND: Comparisons between monozygotic (MZ) co-twins have tended to focus on the similarities between their dentitions rather than differences. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of discordant expression for simple hypodontia and supernumerary teeth in MZ twin pairs and to explain how phenotypic differences might occur despite their similar genotypes. METHODS: Records of 278 pairs of MZ twins, including dental casts and radiographs, were examined and the prevalences of discordant expression for missing upper lateral incisors (ULI) or second premolars (PM2), and of mesiodentes, were determined. Zygosities were confirmed by comparisons of blood markers and DNA. RESULTS: There was evidence of at least one missing ULI or PM2 in 24 of the 278 MZ pairs (8.6 per cent), with 21 of these 24 pairs (87.5 per cent) showing discordant expression. Nine of the 278 MZ pairs (3.2 per cent) displayed evidence of mesiodentes, with eight of these nine pairs (88.9 per cent) being discordant. CONCLUSION: Our findings show that differences in the expression of missing or extra teeth occur often between MZ co-twins whose genetic make-up predisposes them to simple hypodontia or mesiodentes. We postulate that minor variations in epigenetic events during odontogenesis may account for these distinct differences.[1]


  1. Epigenetic influences may explain dental differences in monozygotic twin pairs. Townsend, G.C., Richards, L., Hughes, T., Pinkerton, S., Schwerdt, W. Australian dental journal. (2005) [Pubmed]
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