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Faculty Information

Rodrigo S. Lacruz, MSc, PhD
Assistant Professor
Basic Science and Craniofacial Biology
Room 1007 Dental Center, 421 First Avenue



2002, Masters in Science, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

2007, PhD,University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


Research Interests / Professional Overview:

The main focus of my lab is to identify cellular, genetic and biochemical processes affecting the mineralization of dental enamel. My research combines molecular biology, genetics and morphology to identify growth processes of this tissue. My current research focuses on the analysis of calcium transport mechanisms by enamel cells and in particular the role of the endoplasmic reticulum in this process. Calcium is critical to the development of enamel but how exactly calcium enters enamel cells and how it is then moved into the extracellular compartment where crystals grow, remains obscure. I focus this work on the analysis of CRAC channel proteins STIM and ORAI. Mutations to these genes may result in ectodermal dysplasia and amelogenesis imperfecta.  I am also interested in mechanism of facial growth. In particular I am interested in the processes mediating the growth of the maxillary complex, using animal models and the hominin fossil record to better understand constrains and plasticity of rostral form.


Current Funding:

NIH/NIDCR K99/R00 career development award (2012-2017)


Representative Publications:

2013: Lacruz RS, Brookes SJ, Wen X, Jimenez JM, Vikman S, Hu P, White SN, Lyngstadaas P, Okamoto C, Smith CE, Paine ML.  “Adaptor Protein Complex 2 (AP-2) Mediated, Clathrin Dependent Endocytosis, And Related Gene Activities, Are A Prominent Feature During Maturation Stage Amelogenesis”. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. 28(3):672-687.

2013: Lacruz RS, Bermudez de Castro JM, Martinon-Torres M, O’Higgins P, Carbonells E, Arsuaga JM, Bromage TG. “Facial morphogenesis of the earliest Europeans”. PloS ONE. Jun 6;8(6):e65199.

2013: Lacruz RS, Smith CE, Kurtz I, Hubbard MJ, Paine ML. “New paradigms on the transport function of maturation stage ameloblasts”. Critical Reviews of Oral Biology and Medicine. Journal of Dental Research, vol 92: 122-129.

2012: Hu P, Lacruz RS, Paine ML. “Ameloblast-derived NCKX4 is upregulated during enamel maturation”. Cells Tissues and Organs, vol 196: 501- 509.

2012: Lacruz RS, Ramirez-Rozzi FV, Wood BA, Bromage TG. “Cusp and crown areas in early Australopithecus”. American Journal of Physical Anthropology: Brief Comm., vol 148: 632-640.

2012: Lacruz RS, Hacia JG, Bromage TG, Boyde A, Paine ML, Snead ML. “The circadian clock modulates enamel development”. Journal of Biological Rhythms 27: 237-245.

2012: Lacruz  RS, Smith CE, Hubbard MJ, Bringas P Jr, Chen, Y, Kurtz I, Snead ML, Paine ML. "Identification of novel candidate genes involved in mineralization of dental enamel by genome-wide transcript profiling”. Journal of Cellular Physiology 227: 2264-2275.

2010: Lacruz RS, Nanci A, White SN, Wen X, Wang HJ, Zalzal SF, Luong VQ, Schuetter V, Conti PS, Paine ML. “The sodium bicarbonate contransporter (NBCe1) is essential for the normal development of mouse dentition". Journal of Biological Chemistry 285: 24432-24438.

2008: Lacruz RS, Dean MC, Ramirez-Rozzi FV, Bromage TG. Megadontia, patterns of enamel secretion, and striae periodicity in Plio-Pleistocene fossil hominins”. Journal of Anatomy 213: 148- 158.