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J Biol Chem. 2011 Jun 10;286(23):20228-38. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.209528. Epub 2011 Feb 22.

Expression of phosphophoryn is sufficient for the induction of matrix mineralization by mammalian cells.

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Department of Oral Biology and Center for Craniofacial Regeneration, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260, USA.


Mineralized tissues such as dentin and bone assemble extracellular matrices uniquely rich in a variety of acidic phosphoproteins. Although these proteins are presumed to play a role in the process of biomineralization, key questions regarding the nature of their contributions remain unanswered. First, it is not known whether highly phosphorylated proteins alone can induce matrix mineralization, or whether this activity requires the involvement of other bone/dentin non-collagenous proteins. Second, it remains to be established whether the protein kinases that phosphorylate these acidic proteins are unique to cells responsible for producing mineralized tissues. To begin to address these questions, we consider the case of phosphophoryn (PP), due to its high content of phosphate, high affinity for Ca(2+), and its potential role in hydroxyapatite nucleation. We have created a model system of biomineralization in a cellular environment by expressing PP in NIH3T3 fibroblasts (which do not produce a mineralized matrix); as a positive control, PP was expressed in MC3T3-E1 osteoblastic cells, which normally mineralize their matrices. We show that expression of PP in NIH3T3 cells is sufficient for the induction of matrix mineralization. In addition, assessment of the phosphorylation status of PP in these cells reveals that the transfected NIH3T3 cells are able to phosphorylate PP. We suggest that the phosphorylation of PP is essential for mineral formation. The principle goal of this study is to enrich the current knowledge of mineralized tissue phosphorylation events by analyzing them in the context of a complete cellular environment.

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