Identification of novel candidate genes involved in mineralization of dental enamel by genome-wide transcript profiling

Rodrigo S. Lacruz, Charles E. Smith, Pablo Bringas, Yi Bu Chen, Susan M. Smith, Malcolm L. Snead, Ira Kurtz, Joseph G. Hacia, Michael J. Hubbard, Michael L. Paine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The gene repertoire regulating vertebrate biomineralization is poorly understood. Dental enamel, the most highly mineralized tissue in mammals, differs from other calcifying systems in that the formative cells (ameloblasts) lack remodeling activity and largely degrade and resorb the initial extracellular matrix. Enamel mineralization requires that ameloblasts undergo a profound functional switch from matrix-secreting to maturational (calcium transport, protein resorption) roles as mineralization progresses. During the maturation stage, extracellular pH decreases markedly, placing high demands on ameloblasts to regulate acidic environments present around the growing hydroxyapatite crystals. To identify the genetic events driving enamel mineralization, we conducted genome-wide transcript profiling of the developing enamel organ from rat incisors and highlight over 300 genes differentially expressed during maturation. Using multiple bioinformatics analyses, we identified groups of maturation-associated genes whose functions are linked to key mineralization processes including pH regulation, calcium handling, and matrix turnover. Subsequent qPCR and Western blot analyses revealed that a number of solute carrier (SLC) gene family members were up-regulated during maturation, including the novel protein Slc24a4 involved in calcium handling as well as other proteins of similar function (Stim1). By providing the first global overview of the cellular machinery required for enamel maturation, this study provide a strong foundation for improving basic understanding of biomineralization and its practical applications in healthcare.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2264-2275
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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