Research ArticleSTRUCTURAL BIOLOGY

Chiral switching in biomineral suprastructures induced by homochiral l-amino acid

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Science Advances  01 Aug 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 8, eaas9819
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aas9819

Abstract

How homochiral l-biomolecules in nature induce a chiral switch in biomineralized architectures is unknown, although chiral switching is common in many calcium carbonate–hardened structures found in marine and terrestrial organisms. We created hierarchically organized, chiral biomineral structures of calcium carbonate, whose chirality can be switched by a single l-enantiomer of an amino acid. The control of this chiral switching involves two stages: a calcium carbonate (vaterite) platelet layer inclination stage, followed by a platelet layer rotation stage, the latter stage being responsible for successional chiral switching events within the biomineralized structures. The morphology of the synthesized chiral vaterite structures remarkably resembles pathologic chiral vaterite otoconia found in the human inner ear. In general, these findings describe how a single-enantiomer amino acid might contribute to biomineral architectures having more than one chirality as is commonly seen in biology, and more specifically, they suggest how pathologic chiral malformations may arise in humans.

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