Biomineralization: Understanding of basic mechanisms for the design of novel strategies in nanobiotechnology

 

Acronym: BIOMINTEC
Title: Biomineralization: Understanding of basic mechanisms for the design of novel strategies in nanobiotechnology
Status: Active
Funding Organization: European Union

PITN-GA-2008-215507

NCSR D

Role:

Partner
Leader in charge: E. Mauridou
Start Date: 1/9/2008
Duration: 48 months
Project

Website:

 
Summary       The goal of this multidisciplinary network is to understand basic principles of biomineralization (bio-silicification and bio-calcification) in order to develop novel strategies to apply the biological mechanisms in the field of nanotechnology.

      Silica is widely used in industry and nano(bio)technology. The industrial production of silica requires high temperatures and extreme pH conditions. However, certain single- and multicellular organisms, including diatoms, sponges and higher plants are able to form their silica skeletons (spicules) under ambient, low temperature and pressure, and near-neutral pH conditions, by genetically controlled processes involving proteins (biosilification). This naturally formed silica, built by living organisms as part of a family of similar processes generally known as “biomineralisation”, will be particularly useful for applications, where silica is to come into contact with the human body, such asregeneration of bone tissue, coating of metal implants and encapsulation of drugs for slow release or for catalytic processes useful to the “green industry”.

      The contribution of “DEMOKRITOS” will consist in solving the 3D structure of the two main proteins involved in biosilification, namely silicatein and silicase by X-ray crystallography, the most effective method for acquiring detailed structural knowledge of biological macromolecules. Structural knowledge at the atomic level will allow the optimization of conditions, including mutating the proteins, required for applications.