Evidence for amelogenin "nanospheres" as functional components of secretory-stage enamel matrix. Academic Article uri icon


  • Amelogenins are the principal proteins of the extracellular matrix of developing dental enamel and are postulated to function in the processes of biomineralization of the developing tooth although the molecular mechanisms concerned are poorly understood. Recent imaging studies, employing dynamic light scattering, atomic force, and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) have shown that a recombinant amelogenin (M(r) approximately 20,000 Da) spontaneously forms supramolecular quasi-spherical aggregates ("nanospheres") of 15-20 nm in diameter. By comparison with in vitro experiments employing the recombinant amelogenin we show that the nanospheres appear as electron-lucent structures when treated with conventional electron microscopy contrast reagents (phosphotungstate or uranyl acetate) and we speculate that this property derives from the hydrophobic nature of the amelogenin protein. Employing TEM preparations of developing enamel from mouse, bovine, and hamster we demonstrate that the amelogenin nanospheres occur as beaded rows of electron-lucent structures aligned with, and separating, the enamel mineral crystallites. We postulate that the amelogenin monomers self-assemble to form nanospheres which function to space the initial crystallites, control crystal habit, inhibit intercrystalline fusions, and, through the apposition of their surfaces, create anionic channels which facilitate ion transport within the mineralizing matrix.

published proceedings

  • J Struct Biol

altmetric score

  • 6

author list (cited authors)

  • Fincham, A. G., Moradian-Oldak, J., Diekwisch, T. G., Lyaruu, D. M., Wright, J. T., Bringas, P., & Slavkin, H. C.

citation count

  • 254

complete list of authors

  • Fincham, AG||Moradian-Oldak, J||Diekwisch, TG||Lyaruu, DM||Wright, JT||Bringas, P||Slavkin, HC

publication date

  • January 1995