Studies on enamelin characterization and expression. Enamelin is a matrix component of the developing enamel. Its strong affinity to the enamel crystallites suggests a potential role in the enamel mineralization process. This protein makes up 5% of the enamel matrix and is heavily modified upon synthesis. We are interested in characterizing its structure, understanding the regulation of its expression, and identifying its specific functions. Enamelin gene mutation is responsible for hypoplastic amelogenesis imperfecta. Mouse with enamelin gene knockout develops no true enamel. Our current effort is focusing on establishment and characterization of a transgenic mouse model over expressing enamelin in the enamelin knockout background.
Mutational analyses of families with inherited dental defects. We identify and recruit families with inherited dental defects for genetic analysis of potential etiologies. Through this project gene mutations resulting in specific type of enamel and dentin defects have been characterized. These results broaden our understanding of mutation-associated specific structural defects and the functional importance of enamel and dentin specific gene products. In addition, the results of these studies allow accurate diagnose and proper treatment selections to ensure optimal long-term prognosis for patients with inherited dental defects.
Clinical Research interests. As a pediatric dentist, Dr. Hu has developed keen interest in identifying a biocompatible medicament for pulp therapy of the primary dentition. With support of the MICHR, Children’s Clinic of SOD, and Mott Children’s Health Center, Dr. Hu and Dr. Cam Zealand initiated a prospective long-term study involving multi-centers to test the efficacy of the mineral trioxide aggregate (MTA) in primary molar pulpotomy. The ultimate goal of the study is to reveal the long-term effect of MTA on pulp tissue, the prognosis and side effects of MTA pulpotomy. This project has now expanded into an international study.