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Matrix Biol. 2001 Sep;20(5-6):273-92.

Regulated gene expression dictates enamel structure and tooth function.

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University of Southern California, Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology, Los Angeles, CA 90033, USA.


Enamel is a complex bioceramic tissue. In its final form, enamel is a reflection of the unique molecular and cellular activities occurring during organogenesis. From the ectodermal origins of ameloblasts, their gene activity and protein expression profiles exist for the sole purpose of producing a mineralized shell, almost entirely devoid of protein, deposited over the 'bone-like' dentine. The interface between enamel and dentine is referred to as the dentine enamel junction and it is also unique in its biology. This review article is narrow in its scope. We restrict our review to selected advances in our understanding of the genetic, molecular and structural aspects of enamel biology. We present a model of enamel formation that relates gene expression to the assembly of an extracellular protein matrix that in turn controls the structural hierarchy and mechanical aspects of enamel and the tooth organ.

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