Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Study reveals details of mussels' tenacious bonds

When it comes to sticking power, marine mussels are hard to beat. They can adhere to virtually all inorganic and organic surfaces, sustaining their tenacious bonds in saltwater, including turbulent tidal environments. Little is known, however, about exactly how the bivalves achieve this amazing feat.

In a paper to be published online the week of Aug. 14 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a Northwestern University research team sheds new light on the adhesive strategies of mussels, information that could be used to develop adherents or repellants for use in medical implants.

This is the first-ever single molecule study to focus on the key amino acid 3,4-L-dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA), a tyrosine derivative that is found in high concentration in the "glue" proteins of mussels.

The researchers, led by Phillip B. Messersmith, associate professor of biomedical engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, attached single DOPA amino acids to an atomic force microscope tip and measured the strength of interaction between DOPA and inorganic and organic surfaces.

They found that on an inorganic metal oxide surface DOPA interacts with the substrate by a coordinated noncovalent interaction, which is over an order of magnitude stronger than hydrogen bonding but still completely reversible.

On an organic substrate, DOPA can form even stronger, and irreversible, covalent bonds when it is oxidized by seawater. This helps to explain the remarkable versatility of mussels to adhere strongly to many different materials.

On neither substrate could tyrosine alone mimic such a strong binding interaction, which highlights that the modification of tyrosine residues to form DOPA during mussel glue processing is critical.

"Our results point the way toward new applications for our mussel mimetic polymers," said Messersmith, who has designed a versatile two-sided coating that sticks securely to a surface and prevents cell, protein and bacterial buildup. "For example, we may be able to take advantage of the reactivity of oxidized DOPA to form covalent bonds between adhesive DOPA-containing polymers and human tissue surfaces."

Megan Fellman | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Molecular doorstop could be key to new tuberculosis drugs
20.03.2018 | Rockefeller University

nachricht Modified biomaterials self-assemble on temperature cues
20.03.2018 | Duke University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Physicists made crystal lattice from polaritons

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Thawing permafrost produces more methane than expected

20.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>