Ca2+ transport and signalling in enamel cells

Meerim K. Nurbaeva, Miriam Eckstein, Stefan Feske, Rodrigo S. Lacruz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Dental enamel is one of the most remarkable examples of matrix-mediated biomineralization. Enamel crystals form de novo in a rich extracellular environment in a stage-dependent manner producing complex microstructural patterns that are visually stunning. This process is orchestrated by specialized epithelial cells known as ameloblasts which themselves undergo striking morphological changes, switching function from a secretory role to a cell primarily engaged in ionic transport. Ameloblasts are supported by a host of cell types which combined represent the enamel organ. Fully mineralized enamel is the hardest tissue found in vertebrates owing its properties partly to the unique mixture of ionic species represented and their highly organized assembly in the crystal lattice. Among the main elements found in enamel, Ca2+ is the most abundant ion, yet how ameloblasts modulate Ca2+ dynamics remains poorly known. This review describes previously proposed models for passive and active Ca2+ transport, the intracellular Ca2+ buffering systems expressed in ameloblasts and provides an up-dated view of current models concerning Ca2+ influx and extrusion mechanisms, where most of the recent advances have been made. We also advance a new model for Ca2+ transport by the enamel organ. (Figure presented.).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3015-3039
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Physiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 2017


  • calcium
  • calcium channel
  • calcium regulation
  • calcium signalling
  • calcium transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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