Martinez-Avila OM, Wu S, Cheng Y, Lee R, Khan F, Habelitz S. Self-assembly of amelogenin proteins at the water–oil interface.
Eur J Oral Sci 2011; 119 (Suppl. 1): 75–82. © 2011 Eur J Oral Sci
Self-assembly of amelogenin plays a key role in controlling enamel biomineralization. Recently, we generated self-aligning nanoribbons of amelogenin in water-in-oil emulsions stabilized by the full-length protein (rH174). Here, we tested the hypothesis that the hydrophilic C-terminus is critical for self-assembly of amelogenin into nanoribbons. The self-assembled structures of two amelogenin cleavage products, rH163 and rH146, were compared with structures of rH174 at different pH values and degrees of saturation using atomic force microscopy, electron microscopy, and dynamic light scattering. We observed that the number density of rH174 nanoribbons increased significantly when the initial pH was raised from 4.5 to 5.6. Nanoribbons, as well as unique helical nanostructures, were also readily observed when amelogenin rH146 was used, but showed little tendency for parallel alignment and did not bundle into fibrils like rH174. In contrast, rH163 rarely formed nanoribbons but predominantly assembled into nanospheres under the same conditions. We conclude that the presence of a hydrophilic C-terminus may not be a prerequisite for nanoribbon formation but may be critical for ribbon alignment and subsequent fibril formation. These results highlight the contribution of the hydrophobic domain in the self-assembly of elongated structures of amelogenins. Molecular mechanisms governing these processes based on the formation of reverse micelles are discussed.