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J Dent Res. 2012 Jan;91(1):84-9. doi: 10.1177/0022034511423399. Epub 2011 Sep 26.

Evolutionary story of mammalian-specific amelogenin exons 4, "4b", 8, and 9.

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Evolution & Développement du squelette, UMR 7138, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, 7 Quai Saint-Bernard, Paris, France.


Amelogenin gene organization varies from 6 exons (1,2,3,5,6,7) in amphibians and sauropsids to 10 in rodents. The additional exons are exons 4, 8, 9, and "4b", the latter being as yet unidentified in AMELX transcripts. To learn more about the evolutionary origin of these exons, we used an in silico approach to find them in 39 tetrapod genomes. AMEL organization with 6 exons was the ancestral condition. Exon 4 was created in an ancestral therian (marsupials + placentals), then exon 9 in an ancestral placental, and finally exons "4b" and 8 in rodents, after divergence of the squirrel lineage. These exons were either inactivated in some lineages or remained functional: Exon 4 is functional from artiodactyls onward; exon 9 is known, to date, only in rodents, but could be coding in various mammals; and exon "4b" was probably coding in some rodents. We performed PCR of cDNA isolated from mouse and human tooth buds to identify the presence of these transcripts. A sequence analogous to exon "4b", and to exon 9, could not be amplified from the respective tooth cDNA, indicating that even though sequences similar to these exons are present, they are not transcribed in these species.

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