COHR researchers found a novel microRNA derived from amelogenin gene, which directs ameloblast and osteoblast differentiation.

Amelogenins are the most abundant proteins in the developing enamel matrix, and the gene coding amelogenin is known to be highly alternatively spliced. The researchers from COHR have found that a novel microRNA (miRNA) is derived from amelogenin exon4 through the alternative splicing of amelogenin gene. Using the cell culture and the mouse model, they found that the miRNA directs ameloblast and osteoblast differentiation via regulating Runx2 expression. This is the first study reporting a microRNA is generated from amelogenin gene, and thus it provides a novel insight into the significance of the amelogenin alternative splicing as well as the mechanisms to regulate the differentiation of bone and tooth forming cells.

In recent years, miRNAs have been studied as the candidate molecules associated with the most biologic processes. The inappropriate miRNA expression has been linked to variety of diseases. Therefore, miRNA research appears to have a major role in the practice of personalized medicine in the near future. The further study of the novel miRNA derived from amelogenin will direct the identification of possible therapeutic applications of the microRNA in mineralized tissue formation, including amelogenesis imperfecta.

The findings were published online first on Dec 29, 2015 in the Journal of Dental Research.

Image: Predicted secondary structure of mouse amelogenin exon4 mRNA. Mature miR-exon4 sequence is highlighted in blue.