American journal of physiology. Renal physiology

Molecular modulation of calcium oxalate crystallization.

PMID 17082348


Calcium oxalate monohydrate (COM) is the primary constituent of the majority of renal stones. Osteopontin (OPN), an aspartic acid-rich urinary protein, and citrate, a much smaller molecule, are potent inhibitors of COM crystallization at levels present in normal urine. Current concepts of the role of site-specific interactions in crystallization derived from studies of biomineralization are reviewed to provide a context for understanding modulation of COM growth at a molecular level. Results from in situ atomic force microscopy (AFM) analyses of the effects of citrate and OPN on growth verified the critical role of site-specific interactions between these growth modulators and individual steps on COM crystal surfaces. Molecular modeling investigations of interactions of citrate with steps and faces on COM crystal surfaces provided links between the stereochemistry of interaction and the binding energy levels that underlie mechanisms of growth modification and changes in overall crystal morphology. The combination of in situ AFM and molecular modeling provides new knowledge that will aid rationale design of therapeutic agents for inhibition of stone formation.