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Matrix Biol. 2009 Jun;28(5):292-303. doi: 10.1016/j.matbio.2009.04.004. Epub 2009 Apr 16.

A mouse model expressing a truncated form of ameloblastin exhibits dental and junctional epithelium defects.

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  • 1Laboratory for the Study of Calcified Tissues and Biomaterials, Faculty of Dentistry, Université de Montréal, Station Centre-Ville, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Ameloblastin (AMBN) is the second most abundant extracellular matrix protein produced by the epithelial cells called ameloblasts and is found mainly in forming dental enamel. Inactivation of its expression by gene knockout results in absence of the enamel layer and its replacement by a thin layer of dysplastic mineralized matrix. The objective of this study was to further characterize the enamel organ and mineralized matrix produced in the AMBN knockout mouse. However, in the course of our study, we unexpectedly found that this mouse is in fact a mutant that does not express the full-length protein but that produces a truncated form of AMBN. Mandibles from wild type and mutant mice were processed for morphological analyses and immunolabeling. Microdissected enamel organs and associated matrix were also prepared for molecular and biochemical analyses. In incisors from mutants, ameloblasts lost their polarized organization and the enamel organ detached from the tooth surface and became disorganized. A thin layer of dysplastic mineralized material was deposited onto dentin, and mineralized masses were present within the enamel organ. These mineralized materials generated lower backscattered electron contrast than normal enamel, and immunocytochemistry with colloidal gold revealed the presence of amelogenin, bone sialoprotein and osteopontin. In addition, the height of the alveolar bone was reduced, and the junctional epithelium lost its integrity. Immunochemical and RT-PCR results revealed that the altered enamel organ in the mutant mice produced a shorter AMBN protein that is translated from truncated RNA missing exons 5 and 6. These results indicate that absence of full-length protein and/or expression of an incomplete protein have direct/indirect effects beyond structuring of mineral during enamel formation, and highlight potential functional regions on the AMBN molecule.

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