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Amelogenin-guided Crystal Growth on Fluoroapatite Glass-ceramics

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The formation of aligned fibrous apatite crystals in enamel is predominantly attributed to the involvement of amelogenin proteins. We developed a model to study interactions of matrix proteins with apatite mineral in vitro and tested the hypothesis that amelogenin solubility affects the ability to induce protein-guided mineralization. Crystal growth experiments were performed on fluoroapatite (FAP) glass-ceramics in mineralizing solutions containing recombinant full-length amelogenin (rH174) at different concentrations. Using atomic force microscopy, we observed that mineral precipitated randomly on the substrate, but also formed thin layers (height, 10 nm) on FAP within 24 hrs. This growth pattern was unaffected when 0.4 mg/mL of rH174 was added. In contrast, crystals grew on FAP at a rate up to 20 times higher, at 1.6 mg/mL protein. Furthermore, nanospheres and mineral bound specifically to FAP and aligned in strings approximately parallel to the c-axis of FAP, leading us to the conclusion that amelogenin proteins indeed control direction and rate of growth of apatite in enamel.

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