Protein A and C, which are major components of the acidic proline-rich proteins in human saliva, were digested, before or after adsorption to hydroxyapatite, with alkaline phosphatase, trypsin, thermolysin and a proteinase preparation from salivary sediment. The results demonstrate that the binding site is located in the proline-poor N-terminal part of the protein, possibly between residues 3 and 25. Phosphoserine is necessary for maximal adsorption of the proteins to hydroxyapatite. When proteins A and C are adsorbed to hydroxyapatite before proteolytic digestion there is a protection of some of the susceptible bonds in the N-terminal part of the proteins and a gradual removal of the proline-rich C-terminal part. Thermolysin can cleave susceptible bonds in the part of the protein that remains bound to hydroxyapatite, but at least some of the resulting peptides are retained on the mineral. Since the ability of the proteins to inhibit hydroxyapatite formation and to bind calcium is located in the N-terminal proline-poor part, it is possible that these activities are retained after proteolytic digestion of the adsorbed proteins.

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