Intrinsically disordered mollusk shell prismatic protein that modulates calcium carbonate crystal growth

Biomacromolecules. 2010 Oct 11;11(10):2539-44. doi: 10.1021/bm100738r.


The formation of calcite prism architecture in the prismatic layer of the mollusk shell involves the participation of a number of different proteins. One protein family, Asprich, has been identified as a participant in amorphous calcium carbonate stabilization and calcite architecture in the prismatic layer of the mollusk, Atrina rigida . However, the functional role(s) of this protein family are not fully understood due to the fact that insufficient quantities of these proteins are available for experimentation. To overcome this problem, we employed stepwise solid-phase synthesis to recreate one of the 10 members of the Asprich family, the 61 AA single chain protein, Asprich "3". We find that the Asprich "3" protein inhibits the formation of rhombohedral calcite crystals and induces the formation of round calcium carbonate deposits in vitro that contain calcite and amorphous calcium carbonate (ACC). This mineralization behavior does not occur under control conditions, and the formation of ACC and calcite is similar to that reported for the recombinant form of the Asprich "g" protein. Circular dichroism studies reveal that Asprich "3" is an intrinsically disordered protein, predominantly random coil (66%), with 20-30% β-strand content, a small percentage of β-turn, and little if any α-helical content. This protein is not extrinsically stabilized by Ca(II) ions but can be stabilized by 2,2,2-trifluoroethanol to form a structure consisting of turn-like and random coil characteristics. This finding suggests that Asprich "3" may require other extrinsic interactions (i.e., with mineral or ionic clusters or other macromolecules) to achieve folding. In conclusion, Asprich "3" possesses in vitro functional and structural qualities that are similar to other reported for other Asprich protein sequences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Bivalvia / chemistry*
  • Bivalvia / metabolism
  • Bivalvia / ultrastructure
  • Calcium Carbonate / chemistry*
  • Calcium Carbonate / metabolism
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Circular Dichroism
  • Crystallization
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Folding
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization
  • X-Ray Diffraction


  • Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Calcium Carbonate