Molluscan shell proteins

Frédéric MARIN & Gilles LUQUET

en Comptes Rendus Palevol 3 (6-7) - Pages 469-492

Published on 31 October 2004

This article is a part of the thematic issue Biomineralization: diversity and unity

The shell secreted by molluscs is one of the most remarkable examples of a matrix-mediated mineralisation performed outside living tissues. The calcifying matrix is a mixture of proteins, glycoproteins, and polysaccharides that precisely self-assemble and control the CaCO3 polymorph (calcite, aragonite), the size, the shapes of the crystallites, and finally, the texture of the shell. In spite of several biochemical studies, the molecular aspects of the shell building are far from being understood. The present article makes an overview of the most recent molecular data on the proteinaceous components of the shell matrix. These data put into question the classical models of molluscan mineralisation. Furthermore, they show that shell proteins are diverse and multifunctional and that they may have different origins. .


Biomineralisation, mollusc, shell, extracellular calcifying matrix, proteins, genes, microstructures, Cambrian

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