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Metals And The Integrity Of A Biological Coating: The Cuticle Of Mussel Byssus.

N. Holten-Andersen, T. E. Mates, M. Toprak, G. Stucky, F. Zok, J. Waite
Published 2009 · Chemistry, Medicine, Materials Science

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The cuticle of mussel byssal threads is a robust natural coating that combines high extensibility with high stiffness and hardness. In this study, fluorescence microscopy and elemental analysis were exploited to show that the 3,4-dihydroxyphenyl-L-alanine (dopa) residues of mussel foot protein-1 colocalize with Fe and Ca distributions in the cuticle of Mytilus galloprovincialis mussel byssal threads. Chelated removal of Fe and Ca from the cuticle of intact threads resulted in a 50% reduction in cuticle hardness, and thin sections subjected to the same treatment showed a disruption of cuticle integrity. Dopa-metal complexes may provide significant interactions for the integrity of composite cuticles deformed under tension.
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