Amelogenin RNA transcripts undergo extensive alternative splicing, and MMP-20 processes the isoforms following their secretion. Since amelogenins have been ascribed cell-signaling activities, we asked if a lack of proteolytic processing by MMP-20 affects amelogenin signaling and consequently alters amelogenin splice site selection. RT-PCR analyses of amelogenin mRNA between control and Mmp20-/- mice revealed no differences in the splicing pattern. We characterized 3 previously unidentified amelogenin alternatively spliced transcripts and demonstrated that exon-8-encoded amelogenin isoforms are processed by MMP-20. Transcripts with exon 8 were expressed approximately five-fold less than those with exon 7. Analyses of the mouse and rat amelogenin gene structures confirmed that exon 8 arose in a duplication of exons 4 through 5, with translocation of the copy downstream of exon 7. No downstream genomic sequences homologous to exons 4-5 were present in the bovine or human amelogenin genes, suggesting that this translocation occurred only in rodents.
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