Post-translational modification of enamel proteins is regulated by casein kinases (CK) and results in binding sites for calcium ions that subsequently play a key role during the initial stages of mineralization. Phosphorylation may also influence the secretion and extracellular organization of enamel proteins. Previous studies indicated that inositol hexasulphate inhibited the activity of CK-1 and/or CK-II in mouse tooth germs (Torres-Quintana et al., 1998). We hypothesized that inositol hexasulphate would also inhibit the activity of the specific casein kinase(s) identified in secretory ameloblasts, and would prove useful for determination of the extent to which phosphorylation might influence the organization of enamel proteins at early stages of enamel formation. To test this hypothesis, we dissected mandibular first molars from 18-day-old mouse embryos and cultured them for 11 days in the presence of 0-0.1 mM inositol hexasulphate. Ultastructural analysis revealed that the formation of enamel was largely impaired at an inhibitor concentration ≥ 0.08 mM. Quantitative radioautographic analysis of [33P]phosphate incorporation indicated that radiolabeled phosphate normally secreted into forming enamel was retained within ameloblasts. In contrast, no significant difference was observed between control and inositol-hexasulphate-treated tooth germs when cultures were labeled with [3H]serine and [3H]proline. SDS-PAGE and Western blot analysis confirmed that while inositol hexasulphate inhibited CK-mediated phosphorylation, it did not significantly alter protein synthesis. We conclude that impairment of phosphorylation leads to intracellular accumulation of [3H]phosphate-containing material by ameloblasts. We also conclude that when non-phosphorylated enamel matrix proteins are secreted, they are either unable to form an enamel matrix that supports mineralization, or they diffuse throughout a poorly mineralized dentin.
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