Calcified Tissue International

, Volume 101, Issue 5, pp 457–464 | Cite as

Bicarbonate Transport During Enamel Maturation



Amelogenesis (tooth enamel formation) is a biomineralization process consisting primarily of two stages (secretory stage and maturation stage) with unique features. During the secretory stage, the inner epithelium of the enamel organ (i.e., the ameloblast cells) synthesizes and secretes enamel matrix proteins (EMPs) into the enamel space. The protein-rich enamel matrix forms a highly organized architecture in a pH-neutral microenvironment. As amelogenesis transitions to maturation stage, EMPs are degraded and internalized by ameloblasts through endosomal–lysosomal pathways. Enamel crystallite formation is initiated early in the secretory stage, however, during maturation stage the more rapid deposition of calcium and phosphate into the enamel space results in a rapid expansion of crystallite length and mineral volume. During maturation-stage amelogenesis, the pH value of enamel varies considerably from slightly above neutral to acidic. Extracellular acid–base balance during enamel maturation is tightly controlled by ameloblast-mediated regulatory networks, which include significant synthesis and movement of bicarbonate ions from both the enamel papillary layer cells and ameloblasts. In this review we summarize the carbonic anhydrases and the carbonate transporters/exchangers involved in pH regulation in maturation-stage amelogenesis. Proteins that have been shown to be instrumental in this process include CA2, CA6, CFTR, AE2, NBCe1, SLC26A1/SAT1, SLC26A3/DRA, SLC26A4/PDS, SLC26A6/PAT1, and SLC26A7/SUT2. In addition, we discuss the association of miRNA regulation with bicarbonate transport in tooth enamel formation.


Amelogenesis Bicarbonate Carbonic anhydrase Enamel Solute carrier genes 



The authors would like to thank Bridget Samuels for help with the preparation of the manuscript.


This work was supported by NIH/NIDCR [Grants # R01 DE019629 and R21 DE024704 (M.L.P), R90 DE022582 (K.Y)].

Conflict of interest

Kaifeng Yin and Michael L. Paine declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology, Herman Ostrow School of DentistryUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Orthodontics, Herman Ostrow School of DentistryUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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