Human molecular genetics

Endoplasmic reticulum stress in amelogenesis imperfecta and phenotypic rescue using 4-phenylbutyrate.

PMID 24362885


Inherited diseases caused by genetic mutations can arise due to loss of protein function. Alternatively, mutated proteins may mis-fold, impairing endoplasmic reticulum (ER) trafficking, causing ER stress and triggering the unfolded protein response (UPR). The UPR attempts to restore proteostasis but if unsuccessful drives affected cells towards apoptosis. Previously, we reported that in mice, the p.Tyr64His mutation in the enamel extracellular matrix (EEM) protein amelogenin disrupts the secretory pathway in the enamel-forming ameloblasts, resulting in eruption of malformed tooth enamel that phenocopies human amelogenesis imperfecta (AI). Defective amelogenin post-secretory self-assembly and processing within the developing EEM has been suggested to underlie the pathogenesis of X chromosome-linked AI. Here, we challenge this concept by showing that AI pathogenesis associated with the p.Tyr64His amelogenin mutation involves ameloblast apoptosis induced by ER stress. Furthermore, we show that 4-phenylbutyrate can rescue the enamel phenotype in affected female mice by promoting cell survival over apoptosis such that they are able to complete enamel formation despite the presence of the mutation, offering a potential therapeutic option for patients with this form of AI and emphasizing the importance of ER stress in the pathogenesis of this inherited conformational disease.