Amino Acid Composition and Metal Binding Capability of the Skeletal Protein of Corals
Abstract:The calcified organic matrix of several scleractinian and alcyonarian coral skeletons has a protein composition that is characterized by a predominance of aspartic acid. This predominance is more pronounced for the alcyonarian spicules which contain two times as much aspartic acid on a relative basis as the scleractinian skeletons. Aspartic acid comprises about 70% of alcyonarian skeletal protein and about 35% of the organic matrix of scleractinians. The protein matrix is probably heterogeneous as evidenced by separation into aspartic acid-rich and aspartic acid-poor fractions. A binding study indicates that the organic matrix from alcyonarian spicules has the capability to bind metal ions.
The results support the concept that the organic matrix acts as a template which initiates and controls crystal growth. The specific mechanism by which this occurs may be the association of Ca+2 with the free carboxyl group of the aspartyl residues of the protein matrix.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 1978
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