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The molecular mechanisms underlying mussel adhesion

Abstract

Marine mussels are able to firmly affix on various wet surfaces by the overproduction of special mussel foot proteins (mfp). Abundant fundamental studies have been conducted to understand the molecular basis of mussel adhesion, where the catecholic amino acid, L-3,4-Dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA) has been found to play the major role. These studies are continuing inspiring the engineering of novel adhesives and coatings with improved underwater performances. Despite the recent advances of the adhesives and coatings inspired by mussel adhesive proteins have been intensively reviewed in literature, the fundamental biochemical and biophysical studies on the origin of the strong and versatile wet adhesion have not been fully covered. In this review, we show that how the force measurements at the molecular level by surface force apparatus (SFA) and single molecule atomic force microscopy (AFM) can be used to reveal the direct link between DOPA and the wet adhesion strength of mussel proteins. We highlight a few important technical details that are critical to the successful experimental design. We also summarize many new insights going beyond DOPA adhesion, such as the surface environment and protein sequence dependent synergistic and cooperative binding. We also provide a perspective on a few uncharted but outstanding questions for future studies. A comprehensive understanding on mussel adhesion will be beneficial to the design of novel synthetic wet adhesives for various biomedical applications.

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Publication details

The article was received on 15 Sep 2019, accepted on 09 Oct 2019 and first published on 10 Oct 2019


Article type: Minireview
DOI: 10.1039/C9NA00582J
Nanoscale Adv., 2019, Accepted Manuscript
  • Open access: Creative Commons BY-NC license
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    The molecular mechanisms underlying mussel adhesion

    Y. Li and Y. Cao, Nanoscale Adv., 2019, Accepted Manuscript , DOI: 10.1039/C9NA00582J

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