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Free Content Amino Acid Composition and Metal Binding Capability of the Skeletal Protein of Corals

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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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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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