The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 40: 1141 - 1150 (1996)

Vol 40, Issue 6

Ameloblastin expression in rat incisors and human tooth germs

Published: 1 December 1996

S K Lee, P H Krebsbach, Y Matsuki, A Nanci, K M Yamada and Y Yamada

Laboratory of Developmental Biology, National Institute of Dental Research, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.


We recently identified ameloblastin as an ameloblast-specific gene product from a rat incisor cDNA library (Krebsbach et al., J. Biol. Chem. 271: 4431-4435, 1996). Here we report the developmental pattern of expression of ameloblastin in rat incisors and human tooth germs as visualized by in situ hybridization and immunochemistry. Compared to the expression of amelogenin, the major ameloblast product, ameloblastin mRNA was more widely expressed in ameloblasts from the presecretory to the late maturation stage of development. Ameloblastin mRNA was first observed in the juxtanuclear cytoplasm or presecretory stage ameloblasts, gradually increased in the distal cytoplasm of secretory stage ameloblasts and was found throughout the cytoplasm of early to late maturation stage ameloblasts. The immunostaining of ameloblastin, using a monospecific antibody raised against a recombinant protein, showed intense reactivity in Tomes' processes of secretory stage ameloblasts and surrounding enamel. The immunoreaction was concentrated in the juxtanuclear cytoplasm of late maturation stage ameloblasts. High-resolution colloidal gold immunocytochemistry established the presence of ameloblastin antigenicity in the Golgi apparatus, secretory granules in Tomes' process and enamel. Human tooth germs in early to late bell stage also expressed ameloblastin mRNA and ameloblastin antigenicity in the ameloblasts. Western blot analysis of protein extracts from rat incisor tissues indicated that ameloblastin can be found in the enamel epithelial tissue and in mineralized enamel, as well as in the EDTA decalcification solution. These data indicate that ameloblastin is an ameloblast secretory product which is sequentially expressed from the presecretory to the late maturation stage in rat and human teeth. This unique developmental pattern suggests that ameloblastin may have a broader role in amelogenesis than amelogenin and tuftelin.

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