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Microfluidic-like fabrication of metal ion–cured bioadhesives by mussels
Science  (IF47.728),  Pub Date : 2021-10-08, DOI: 10.1126/science.abi9702
Tobias Priemel, Gurveer Palia, Frank Förste, Franziska Jehle, Sanja Sviben, Ioanna Mantouvalou, Paul Zaslansky, Luca Bertinetti, Matthew J. Harrington

To anchor in seashore habitats, mussels fabricate adhesive byssus fibers that are mechanically reinforced by protein-metal coordination mediated by 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA). The mechanism by which metal ions are integrated during byssus formation remains unknown. In this study, we investigated the byssus formation process in the blue mussel, Mytilus edulis, combining traditional and advanced methods to identify how and when metals are incorporated. Mussels store iron and vanadium ions in intracellular metal storage particles (MSPs) complexed with previously unknown catechol-based biomolecules. During adhesive formation, stockpiled secretory vesicles containing concentrated fluid proteins are mixed with MSPs within a microfluidic-like network of interconnected channels where they coalesce, forming protein-metal bonds within the nascent byssus. These findings advance our understanding of metal use in biological materials with implications for next-generation metallopolymers and adhesives.