Amelogenin, a major structural protein in mineralizing enamel, is also expressed in soft tissues: brain and cells of the hematopoietic system

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The amelogenin protein is considered as the major molecular marker of developing and mineralizing ectodermal enamel. It regulates the shape, size, and direction of growth of the enamel mineral crystallite. Recent data suggest other roles for amelogenin beyond regulation of enamel mineral crystal growth. The present study describes our recent discovery of amelogenin expression in soft tissues: in brain and in cells of the hematopoietic system, such as macrophages, megakaryocytes and in some of the hematopoietic stem cells. Reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT–PCR) followed by cDNA sequencing revealed, in mouse brain, two amelogenin mRNA isoforms: the full-length amelogenin including exon 4, and the isoform lacking exon 4. Immunohistochemistry revealed amelogenin expression in brain glial cells. Mouse macrophages were found to express the full-length amelogenin sequence lacking exon 4. Confocal microscopy revealed colocalization of amelogenin and CD41 (a megakaryocyte marker), as well as amelogenin and CD34 (a hematopoietic stem cell marker) in some of the bone marrow cells. The expression of amelogenin, a major structural protein of the mineralizing extracellular enamel matrix, also in cells of non-mineralizing soft tissues, suggests that amelogenin is multifunctional. Several different potential functions of amelogenin are discussed.

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