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Macromolecular recognition directs calcium ions to coccolith mineralization sites

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Gal,  Assaf
Damien Faivre, Biomaterialien, Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Max Planck Society;

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Fratzl,  Peter
Peter Fratzl, Biomaterialien, Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Max Planck Society;

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Faivre,  Damien
Damien Faivre, Biomaterialien, Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Gal, A., Wirth, R., Kopka, J., Fratzl, P., Faivre, D., & Scheffel, A. (2016). Macromolecular recognition directs calcium ions to coccolith mineralization sites. Science, 353(6299), 590-593. doi:10.1126/science.aaf7889.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002B-50E9-A
Abstract
Many organisms form elaborate mineralized structures, constituted of highly organized arrangements of crystals and organic macromolecules. The localization of crystals within these structures is presumably determined by the interaction of nucleating macromolecules with the mineral phase. Here we show that, preceding nucleation, a specific interaction between soluble organic molecules and an organic backbone structure directs mineral components to specific sites. This strategy underlies the formation of coccoliths, which are highly ordered arrangements of calcite crystals produced by marine microalgae. On combining the insoluble organic coccolith scaffold with coccolith-associated soluble macromolecules in vitro, we found a massive accretion of calcium ions at the sites where the crystals form in vivo. The in vitro process exhibits profound similarities to the initial stages of coccolith biogenesis in vivo.