Saliva: a dynamic proteome

J Dent Res. 2007 Aug;86(8):680-93. doi: 10.1177/154405910708600802.


The proteome of whole saliva, in contrast to that of serum, is highly susceptible to a variety of physiological and biochemical processes. First, salivary protein secretion is under neurologic control, with protein output being dependent on the stimulus. Second, extensive salivary protein modifications occur in the oral environment, where a plethora of host- and bacteria-derived enzymes act on proteins emanating from the glandular ducts. Salivary protein biosynthesis starts with the transcription and translation of salivary protein genes in the glands, followed by post-translational processing involving protein glycosylation, phosphorylation, and proteolysis. This gives rise to salivary proteins occurring in families, consisting of structurally closely related family members. Once glandular secretions enter the non-sterile oral environment, proteins are subjected to additional and continuous protein modifications, leading to extensive proteolytic cleavage, partial deglycosylation, and protein-protein complex formation. All these protein modifications occur in a dynamic environment dictated by the continuous supply of newly synthesized proteins and removal by swallowing. Understanding the proteome of whole saliva in an environment of continuous turnover will be a prerequisite to gain insight into the physiological and pathological processes relevant to oral health, and be crucial for the identification of meaningful biomarkers for oral disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Molecular Structure
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Proteomics*
  • Saliva / chemistry*
  • Saliva / enzymology
  • Salivary Proteins and Peptides / chemistry*
  • Salivary Proteins and Peptides / genetics
  • Salivary Proteins and Peptides / metabolism*


  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Salivary Proteins and Peptides