Biophysical aspects of biomineralization

Biophys Rev. 2017 Oct;9(5):747-760. doi: 10.1007/s12551-017-0315-1. Epub 2017 Aug 29.


During the process of endochondral bone formation, chondrocytes and osteoblasts mineralize their extracellular matrix (ECM) by promoting the synthesis of hydroxyapatite (HA) seed crystals in the sheltered interior of membrane-limited matrix vesicles (MVs). Several lipid and proteins present in the membrane of the MVs mediate the interactions of MVs with the ECM and regulate the initial mineral deposition and posterior propagation. Among the proteins of MV membranes, ion transporters control the availability of phosphate and calcium needed for initial HA deposition. Phosphatases (orphan phosphatase 1, ectonucleotide pyrophosphatase/phosphodiesterase 1 and tissue-nonspecific alkaline phosphatase) play a crucial role in controlling the inorganic pyrophosphate/inorganic phosphate ratio that allows MV-mediated initiation of mineralization. The lipidic microenvironment can help in the nucleation process of first crystals and also plays a crucial physiological role in the function of MV-associated enzymes and transporters (type III sodium-dependent phosphate transporters, annexins and Na+/K+ ATPase). The whole process is mediated and regulated by the action of several molecules and steps, which make the process complex and highly regulated. Liposomes and proteoliposomes, as models of biological membranes, facilitate the understanding of lipid-protein interactions with emphasis on the properties of physicochemical and biochemical processes. In this review, we discuss the use of proteoliposomes as multiple protein carrier systems intended to mimic the various functions of MVs during the initiation and propagation of mineral growth in the course of biomineralization. We focus on studies applying biophysical tools to characterize the biomimetic models in order to gain an understanding of the importance of lipid-protein and lipid-lipid interfaces throughout the process.

Keywords: Biomineralization; Hydroxyapatite; Lipid microenvironment; Liposome; Matrix vesicles; Proteoliposome.

Publication types

  • Review