Description: The fascinating shapes and hierarchical designs of biomineralized structures are an inspiration to materials scientists because of the potential they suggest for biomolecular control over materials synthesis. Conversely, the failure to prevent or limit tissue mineralization in the vascular, skeletal, and urinary systems is a common source of disease. Understanding the mechanisms by which organisms direct or limit crystallization has long been a central challenge to the biomineralization community. One prevailing view is that mineral-associated macromolecules are responsible for either inhibiting crystallization or initiating and stabilizing non-equilibrium crystal polymorphs and morphologies through interactions between anionic moieties and cations in solution or at mineralizing surfaces. In particular, biomolecules that present carboxyl groups to the growing crystal have been implicated as primary modulators of growth. Here we review the results from a combination of in situ atomic force microscopy (AFM) and molecular modeling (MM) studies to investigate the effect of specific interactions between carboxylate-rich biomolecules and atomic steps on crystal surfaces during the growth of carbonates, oxalates and phosphates of calcium. Specifically, we how the growth kinetics and morphology depend on the concentration of additives that include citrate, simple amino acids, synthetic Asp-rich polypeptides, and naturally occurring Asp-rich proteins found in both functional and pathological mineral tissues. The results reveal a consistent picture of shape modification in which stereochemical matching of modifiers to specific atomic steps drives shape modification. Inhibition and other changes in growth kinetics are shown to be due to a range of mechanisms that depend on chemistry and molecular size. Some effects are well described by classic crystal growth theories, but others, such as step acceleration due to peptide charge and hydrophylicity, were previously unrealized. Finally, we show that the molecular scale observations are well correlated with macroscopic growth rate data.
Date: April 27, 2007
Creator: De Yoreo, J. J.