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Amelogenin proteins of developing dental enamel.

The amelogenins of developing dental enamel are tissue-specific proteins, rich in proline, leucine, histidine and glutamyl residues, and synthesized by the ameloblast cells of the inner enamel epithelium. These proteins comprise the bulk of the extracellular matrix that becomes mineralized with a hydroxyapatite phase to become the mature enamel. Examination of the amino acid sequences of amelogenins from a range of mammals shows a high degree of evolutionary sequence conservation, suggestive of specialized function. Recently it has been shown that multiple amelogenin components, observed in the matrix, arise both by a sequence of post-secretory proteolytic processing and by the expression of alternatively spliced mRNAs generated from the amelogenin gene(s) that are located on the sex chromosomes. Although the function of these amelogenins in enamel biomineralization is unknown, physico-chemical studies of recombinant amelogenins have shown that they undergo a self-assembly process in vitro generating supra-molecular 'nanosphere' structures, and recent observations in vivo point to a functional role for the nanospheres in the ultrastructural organization of the secretory enamel matrix, conducive to the organized development of the earliest mineral crystallites.[1]


  1. Amelogenin proteins of developing dental enamel. Fincham, A.G., Simmer, J.P. Ciba Found. Symp. (1997) [Pubmed]
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