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An Acidic Matrix Protein, Pif, Is a Key Macromolecule for Nacre Formation

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Science  11 Sep 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5946, pp. 1388-1390
DOI: 10.1126/science.1173793

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Abstract

The mollusk shell is a hard tissue consisting of calcium carbonate crystals and an organic matrix. The nacre of the shell is characterized by a stacked compartment structure with a uniformly oriented c axis of aragonite crystals in each compartment. Using a calcium carbonate–binding assay, we identified an acidic matrix protein, Pif, in the pearl oyster Pinctada fucata that specifically binds to aragonite crystals. The Pif complementary DNA (cDNA) encoded a precursor protein, which was posttranslationally cleaved to produce Pif 97 and Pif 80. The results from immunolocalization, a knockdown experiment that used RNA interference, and in vitro calcium carbonate crystallization studies strongly indicate that Pif regulates nacre formation.

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