Journal of biomedical materials research. Part B, Applied biomaterials

Carboxymethylation of the fibrillar collagen with respect to formation of hydroxyapatite.

PMID 19957363


Control over crystal growth by acidic matrix macromolecules is an important process in the formation of many mineralized tissues. Highly acidic macromolecules are postulated intermediates in tissue mineralization, because they sequester many calcium ions and occur in high concentrations at mineralizing foci in distantly related organisms. A prerequisite for biomineralization is the ability of cations like calcium to bind to proteins and to result in concert with appropriate anions like phosphates or carbonates in composite materials with bone-like properties. For this mineralization process the proteins have to be modified with respect to acidification. In this study we modified the protein collagen by carboxymethylation using glucuronic acid. Our experiments showed unambigously, that N(epsilon)-carboxymethyllysine is the major product of the in vitro nonenzymatic glycation reaction between glucuronic acid and collagen. We hypothesized that the function of biomimetically carboxymethylated collagen is to increase the local concentration of corresponding ions so that a critical nucleus of ions can be formed, leading to the formation of the mineral. Thus, the self-organization of HAP nanocrystals on and within collagen fibrils was intensified by carboxymethylation.