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Protein Sci. 2011 Apr;20(4):724-34. doi: 10.1002/pro.603.

Probing the self-association, intermolecular contacts, and folding propensity of amelogenin.

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Laboratory for Chemical Physics, New York University, New York, New York 10010, USA.


Amelogenins are an intrinsically disordered protein family that plays a major role in the development of tooth enamel, one of the most highly mineralized materials in nature. Monomeric porcine amelogenin possesses random coil and residual secondary structures, but it is not known which sequence regions would be conformationally attractive to potential enamel matrix targets such as other amelogenins (self-assembly), other matrix proteins, cell surfaces, or biominerals. To address this further, we investigated recombinant porcine amelogenin (rP172) using "solvent engineering" techniques to simultaneously promote native-like structure and induce amelogenin oligomerization in a manner that allows identification of intermolecular contacts between amelogenin molecules. We discovered that in the presence of 2,2,2-trifluoroethanol (TFE) significant folding transitions and stabilization occurred primarily within the N- and C-termini, while the polyproline Type II central domain was largely resistant to conformational transitions. Seven Pro residues (P2, P127, P130, P139, P154, P157, P162) exhibited conformational response to TFE, and this indicates these Pro residues act as folding enhancers in rP172. The remaining Pro residues resisted TFE perturbations and thus act as conformational stabilizers. We also noted that TFE induced rP172 self-association via the formation of intermolecular contacts involving P4-H6, V19-P33, and E40-T58 regions of the N-terminus. Collectively, these results confirm that the N- and C-termini of amelogenin are conformationally responsive and represent potential interactive sites for amelogenin-target interactions during enamel matrix mineralization. Conversely, the Pro, Gln central domain is resistant to folding and this may have important functional significance for amelogenin.

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