Salivary Proteome and Its Genetic Polymorphisms

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Salivary diagnostics for oral as well as systemic diseases is dependent on the identification of biomolecules reflecting a characteristic change in presence, absence, composition, or structure of saliva components found under healthy conditions. Most of the biomarkers suitable for diagnostics comprise proteins and peptides. The usefulness of salivary proteins for diagnostics requires the recognition of typical features, which make saliva as a body fluid unique. Salivary secretions reflect a degree of redundancy displayed by extensive polymorphisms forming families for each of the major salivary proteins. The structural differences among these polymorphic isoforms range from distinct to subtle, which may in some cases not even affect the mass of different family members. To facilitate the use of modern state-of-the-art proteomics and the development of nanotechnology-based analytical approaches in the field of diagnostics, the salient features of the major salivary protein families are reviewed at the molecular level. Knowledge of the structure and function of salivary gland–derived proteins/peptides has a critical impact on the rapid and correct identification of biomarkers, whether they originate from exocrine or non-exocrine sources.

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