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ABSTRACT: An orthodontically treated tooth is often destabilized in its newly corrected location and relapses towards its original position. Hitherto, the explanation for this phenomenon was that orthodontic force brings about "stretching" of gingival collagen fiber, which "pull back" the tooth towards its pretreatment position. A previous ultrastructural study showed that after force application the gingival collagen fibres were torn, laterally spaced and of increased diameter. Therefore, they could not "pull back" the tooth and be the cause of the relapse. In the present study, in order to find a more plausible explanation at the molecular level, the effect of pressure on the gene transcription of collagen type I and tissue collagenase was examined by semiquantitative, reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction assay. Attached buccal gingiva was excised from anaesthetized dogs and gingival fibroblasts were grown in culture. Following application of pressure (0.167 kg/l g cell mass), the transcription of collagen type I was increased while that of tissue collagenase was decreased. These results corroborate the ultrastructural in vivo findings that orthodontic force is associated with larger amounts of collagen type I in the gingiva.