Morphological and functional changes during ameloblast and odontoblast differentiation suggest that enamel and dentin formation is under circadian control. Circadian rhythms are endogenous self-sustained oscillations with periods of 24 h that control diverse physiological and metabolic processes. Mammalian clock genes play a key role in synchronizing circadian functions in many organs. However, close to nothing is known on clock genes expression during tooth development. In this work, we investigated the expression of four clock genes during tooth development. Our results showed that circadian clock genes Bmal1, clock, per1, and per2 mRNAs were detected in teeth by RT-PCR. Immunohistochemistry showed that clock protein expression was first detected in teeth at the bell stage (E17), being expressed in EOE and dental papilla cells. At post-natal day four (PN4), all four clock proteins continued to be expressed in teeth but with different intensities, being strongly expressed within the nucleus of ameloblasts and odontoblasts and down-regulated in dental pulp cells. Interestingly, at PN21 incisor, expression of clock proteins was down-regulated in odontoblasts of the crown-analogue side but expression was persisting in root-analogue side odontoblasts. In contrast, both crown and root odontoblasts were strongly stained for all four clock proteins in first molars at PN21. Within the periodontal ligament (PDL) space, epithelial rests of Malassez (ERM) showed the strongest expression among other PDL cells. Our data suggests that clock genes might be involved in the regulation of ameloblast and odontoblast functions, such as enamel and dentin protein secretion and matrix mineralization. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.