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Reflectins: The Unusual Proteins of Squid Reflective Tissues

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Science  09 Jan 2004:
Vol. 303, Issue 5655, pp. 235-238
DOI: 10.1126/science.1091288

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Abstract

A family of unusual proteins is deposited in flat, structural platelets in reflective tissues of the squid Euprymna scolopes. These proteins, which we have named reflectins, are encoded by at least six genes in three subfamilies and have no reported homologs outside of squids. Reflectins possess five repeating domains, which are highly conserved among members of the family. The proteins have a very unusual composition, with four relatively rare residues (tyrosine, methionine, arginine, and tryptophan) comprising ∼57% of a reflectin, and several common residues (alanine, isoleucine, leucine, and lysine) occurring in none of the family members. These protein-based reflectors in squids provide a marked example of nanofabrication in animal systems.

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