Comparison of body weight and gene expression in amelogenin null and wild-type mice

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Amelogenin (AmelX) null mice develop hypomineralized enamel lacking normal prism structure, but are healthy and fertile. Because these mice are smaller than wild-type mice prior to weaning, we undertook a detailed analysis of the weight of mice and analyzed AmelX expression in non-dental tissues. Wild-type mice had a greater average weight each day within the 3-wk period. Using reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT–PCR), products of ≈ 200 bp in size were generated from wild-type teeth, brain, eye, and calvariae. DNA sequence analysis of RT–PCR products from calvariae indicated that the small amelogenin leucine-rich amelogenin peptide (LRAP), both with and without exon 4, was expressed. No products were obtained from any of the samples from the AmelX null mice. We also isolated mRNAs that included AmelX exons 8 and 9, and identified a duplication within the murine AmelX gene with 91% homology. Our results add additional support to the hypothesis that amelogenins are multifunctional proteins, with potential roles in non-ameloblasts and in non-mineralizing tissues during development. The smaller size of AmelX null mice could potentially be explained by the lack of LRAP expression in some of these tissues, leading to a delay in development.

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