Critical role of zinc in hardening of Nereis jaws.

TitleCritical role of zinc in hardening of Nereis jaws.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsBroomell, CC, Mattoni, MA, Zok, FW, Waite, JH
JournalJ Exp Biol
IssuePt 16
Date Published2006 Aug
KeywordsAnimals, Histidine, Jaw, Polychaeta, Zinc

Hardening of invertebrate jaws and mandibles has been previously correlated to diverse, potentially complex modifications. Here we demonstrate directly, for the first time, that Zn plays a critical role in the mechanical properties of histidine-rich Nereis jaws. Using nanoindentation, we show that removal of Zn by chelation decreases both hardness and modulus by over 65%. Moreover, reconstitution of Zn yields a substantial recovery of initial properties. Modulus and hardness of Zn-replete jaws exceed those attainable by current engineering polymers by a factor of >3. Zn-mediated histidine cross-links are proposed to account for this enhancement in mechanical properties.

Alternate JournalJ. Exp. Biol.
PubMed ID16888069
PubMed Central IDPMC1865513
Grant ListDE014672 / DE / NIDCR NIH HHS / United States
R01 DE014672 / DE / NIDCR NIH HHS / United States