Circular dichroism (CD) studies were conducted to gain a better insight into the conformation of amelogenins, which were isolated from developing enamel of piglets. The intact porcine amelogenin and its degraded products were purified chromatographically. The 25-residue peptide corresponding to the segment at the C-terminus was synthesized. CD spectra of these samples were measured at pH 5.0-5.3 in the temperature range between 4 and 90°C. The most remarkable finding was that the CD spectrum of the intact amelogenin was accounted for by the sum of the spectra of the three fragments at the N-terminal, central, and C-terminal regions, supporting the hypothesis that the structure of the whole protein consists of discrete folding units. Furthermore, low-angle laser light scattering analysis provided evidence that the 20 kDa amelogenin, the most abundant extracellular matrix protein in forming enamel tissue, exists in a monomeric form at pH 5.3 and 25°C. It was tentatively concluded that the N-terminal region contains b'-sheet structures, while the spectral characteristics of the C-terminal region are similar to those of a random coil conformation. The conformation of the central region was characterized by a strong negative ellipticity at 203 nm, although its nature remains to be defined.
The Japanese Biochemical Society