Expression of kallikrein-related peptidase 4 in dental and non-dental tissues

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Kallikrein-related peptidase 4 (KLK4) is critical for proper dental enamel formation. Klk4 null mice, and humans with two defective KLK4 alleles have obvious enamel defects, with no other apparent phenotype. KLK4 mRNA or protein is reported to be present in tissues besides teeth, including prostate, ovary, kidney, liver, and salivary gland. In this study we used the Klk4 knockout/NLS-lacZ knockin mouse to assay Klk4 expression using β-galactosidase histochemistry. Incubations for 5 h were used to detect KLK4 expression with minimal endogenous background, while overnight incubations susceptible to false positives were used to look for trace KLK4 expression. Developing maxillary molars at postnatal days 5, 6, 7, 8, and 14, developing mandibular incisors at postnatal day 14, and selected non-dental tissues from adult wild-type and Klk4lacZ/lacZ mice were examined by X-gal histochemistry. After 5 h of incubation, X-gal staining was observed specifically in the nuclei of maturation-stage ameloblasts in molars and incisors from Klk4lacZ/lacZ mice and was detected weakly in the nuclei of salivary gland ducts and in patches of prostate epithelia. We conclude that KLK4 is predominantly a tooth-specific protease with low expression in submandibular salivary gland and prostate, and with no detectable expression in liver, kidney, testis, ovary, oviduct, epididymis, and vas deferens.

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