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PLoS One. 2014 May 14;9(5):e97318. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0097318. eCollection 2014.

Prevention of the disrupted enamel phenotype in Slc4a4-null mice using explant organ culture maintained in a living host kidney capsule.

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Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology, Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, United States of America.
Division of Nephrology and Brain Research Institute, David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States of America.


Slc4a4-null mice are a model of proximal renal tubular acidosis (pRTA). Slc4a4 encodes the electrogenic sodium base transporter NBCe1 that is involved in transcellular base transport and pH regulation during amelogenesis. Patients with mutations in the SLC4A4 gene and Slc4a4-null mice present with dysplastic enamel, amongst other pathologies. Loss of NBCe1 function leads to local abnormalities in enamel matrix pH regulation. Loss of NBCe1 function also results in systemic acidemic blood pH. Whether local changes in enamel pH and/or a decrease in systemic pH are the cause of the abnormal enamel phenotype is currently unknown. In the present study we addressed this question by explanting fetal wild-type and Slc4a4-null mandibles into healthy host kidney capsules to study enamel formation in the absence of systemic acidemia. Mandibular E11.5 explants from NBCe1-/- mice, maintained in host kidney capsules for 70 days, resulted in teeth with enamel and dentin with morphological and mineralization properties similar to cultured NBCe1+/+ mandibles grown under identical conditions. Ameloblasts express a number of proteins involved in dynamic changes in H+/base transport during amelogenesis. Despite the capacity of ameloblasts to dynamically modulate the local pH of the enamel matrix, at least in the NBCe1-/- mice, the systemic pH also appears to contribute to the enamel phenotype. Extrapolating these data to humans, our findings suggest that in patients with NBCe1 mutations, correction of the systemic metabolic acidosis at a sufficiently early time point may lead to amelioration of enamel abnormalities.

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