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Mollusk Teeth May Lead to Improvements in Dental Materials

A team of researchers from Okayama University and the University of California, Riverside’s Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering has uncovered the genes that allow a marine mollusk—the gumboot chiton—to regrow teeth containing magnetite nanomaterials.

A team of researchers from Okayama University and the University of California, Riverside’s Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering has uncovered the genes that allow a marine mollusk—the gumboot chiton—to regrow teeth containing magnetite nanomaterials, a geologic material that has the maximum hardness and stiffness of any known biomaterial. The findings may lead to improvements in abrasion-resistant dental materials.

The mollusk uses a specialized set of teeth made from magnetic mineral magnetite to scrape algae off ocean rocks, and once teeth wear down, a new set forms. Magnetite is deposited only in the cusp region.

After examining the transcriptome in the teeth, researches found that the 20 most abundant RNA transcripts in the developing teeth region contain ferritin, a protein that stores iron and releases it in a controlled fashion, while those in the mineralized teeth region include proteins of mitochondria that may provide the energy required to transform the raw materials into magnetite, according to UC Riverside News.

Investigators also identified 22 proteins on the fully mineralized cusp that included a new protein they called radular teeth matrix protein1. The protein may interact with substances on the teeth to produce iron oxide. The paper, “Integrated Transcriptomic and Proteomic Analyses of a Molecular Mechanism of Radular Teeth Biomineralization in Cryptochiton Stelleri,” was published in Scientific Reports.

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