Recombinant perlucin derivatives influence the nucleation of calcium carbonate
Proteins are known to play various key roles in the formation of complex inorganic solids during natural biomineralisation processes. However, in most cases our understanding of the actual underlying mechanisms is rather limited. One interesting example is perlucin, a protein involved in the formation of nacre, where it is believed to promote the crystallisation of calcium carbonate. In the present work, we have used potentiometric titration assays to systematically investigate the influence of recombinant GFP-labeled perlucin derivatives on the early stages of CaCO3 formation. Our results indicate that different parts of the protein can impact nucleation in distinct ways and act in either a retarding or promoting fashion. The most important finding is that full-length GFP-perlucin changes the nature of the initially precipitated phase and seems to favour the direct formation of crystalline polymorphs over nucleation of ACC and subsequent phase transformation, as observed in reference experiments without protein. This confirms the supposed role of perlucin in nacre biomineralisation and may rely on specific interactions between the protein and the crystal lattice of the emerging mineral phase.