Objective: Amelogenins are the most abundant matrix proteins in enamel. Among the amelogenin isoforms, full-length amelogenin (M180) and leucine-rich amelogenin peptide (LRAP) are expressed in various tissues and are implicated as signalling molecules in mesenchymal cells. Here, we examined the effects of M180 and LRAP on a chondrogenic cell line, ATDC5, to investigate the role of amelogenins in chondrogenesis. Materials and Methods: Recombinant mouse M180- or LRAP-protein-containing medium or control medium was mixed with a chondrogenesis-stimulating medium, and changes in the phenotype, gene expression levels and cell proliferation of cultured ATDC5 cells were analysed. Results: The addition of amelogenins increased alkaline phosphatase activity and glycosaminoglycan secretion at 14 and 21 days of culture, respectively, as compared with the control. Quantitative PCR (Q-PCR) analysis revealed that LRAP increased the gene expression levels of Runx2, Col2a1 and Aggrecan at 7 days of differentiation. Moreover, both M180 and LRAP significantly increased the gene expression levels of ALP, Aggrecan, Col10a1 and osteopontin at 28 days of culture. Bromodeoxyuridine assay and Q-PCR analysis for Wnt signalling indicated that both M180 and LRAP reduced proliferation, but induced the cell differentiation possibly through altered non-canonical Wnt signalling. Conclusion: M180 and LRAP accelerate chondrogenic differentiation and maturation of ATDC5 cells.
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