Studies indicate that mammalian bone formation is initiated at calcium carbonate bioseeds, a process that is driven enzymatically by carbonic anhydrase (CA). We show that amorphous calcium carbonate (ACC) and bicarbonate (HCO3 (-) ) cause induction of expression of the CA in human osteogenic SaOS-2 cells. The mineral deposits formed on the surface of the cells are rich in C, Ca and P. FTIR analysis revealed that ACC, vaterite, and aragonite, after exposure to phosphate, undergo transformation into calcium phosphate. This exchange was not seen for calcite. The changes to ACC, vaterite, and aragonite depended on the concentration of phosphate. The rate of incorporation of phosphate into ACC, vaterite, and aragonite, is significantly accelerated in the presence of a peptide rich in aspartic acid and glutamic acid. We propose that the initial CaCO3 bioseed formation is driven by CA, and that the subsequent conversion to calcium phosphate/calcium hydroxyapatite (exchange of carbonate by phosphate) is a non-enzymatic exchange process.
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