Ameloblastin Binds to Phospholipid Bilayers via a Helix-Forming Motif within the Sequence Encoded by Exon 5

Ameloblastin (Ambn), the most abundant non-amelogenin enamel protein, is intrinsically disordered and has the potential to interact with other enamel proteins and with cell membranes. Here, through multiple biophysical methods, we investigated the interactions between Ambn and large unilamellar vesicles (LUVs), whose lipid compositions mimicked cell membranes involved in epithelial cell-extracellular matrix adhesion. Using a series of Ambn Trp/Phe variants and Ambn mutants, we further showed that Ambn binds to LUVs through a highly conserved motif within the sequence encoded by exon 5. Synthetic peptides derived from different regions of Ambn confirmed that the sequence encoded by exon 5 is involved in LUV binding. Sequence analysis of Ambn across different species showed that the N-terminus of this sequence contains a highly conserved motif with a propensity to form an amphipathic helix. Mutations in the helix-forming sequence resulted in a loss of peptide binding to LUVs. Our in vitro data suggest that Ambn binds the lipid membrane directly through a conserved helical motif and have implications for biological events such as Ambn-cell interactions, Ambn signaling, and Ambn secretion via secretory vesicles.