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WDR72 models of structure and function: A stage-specific regulator of enamel mineralization


Amelogenesis Imperfecta (AI) is a clinical diagnosis that encompasses a group of genetic mutations, each affecting processes involved in tooth enamel formation and thus, result in various enamel defects. The hypomaturation enamel phenotype has been described for mutations involved in the later stage of enamel formation, including Klk4, Mmp20, C4orf26, and Wdr72. Using a candidate gene approach we discovered a novel Wdr72 human mutation in association with AI to be a 5-base pair deletion (c.806_810delGGCAG; p.G255VfsX294). To gain insight into the function of WDR72, we used computer modeling of the full-length human WDR72 protein structure and found that the predicted N-terminal sequence forms two beta-propeller folds with an alpha-solenoid tail at the C-terminus. This domain iteration is characteristic of vesicle coat proteins, such as beta'-COP, suggesting a role for WDR72 in the formation of membrane deformation complexes to regulate intracellular trafficking. Our Wdr72 knockout mouse model (Wdr72(-/-)), containing a LacZ reporter knock-in, exhibited hypomineralized enamel similar to the AI phenotype observed in humans with Wdr72 mutations. MicroCT scans of Wdr72(-/-) mandibles affirmed the hypomineralized enamel phenotype occurring at the onset of the maturation stage. H&E staining revealed a shortened height phenotype in the Wdr72(-/-) ameloblasts with retained proteins in the enamel matrix during maturation stage. H(+)/Cl(-) exchange transporter 5 (CLC5), an early endosome acidifier, was co-localized with WDR72 in maturation-stage ameloblasts and decreased in Wdr72(-/-) maturation-stage ameloblasts. There were no obvious differences in RAB4A and LAMP1 immunostaining of Wdr72(-/-) mice as compared to wildtype controls. Moreover, Wdr72(-/-) ameloblasts had reduced amelogenin immunoreactivity, suggesting defects in amelogenin fragment resorption from the matrix. These data demonstrate that WDR72 has a major role in enamel mineralization, most notably during the maturation stage, and suggest a function involving endocytic vesicle trafficking, possibly in the removal of amelogenin proteins.

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