The molecular basis for pore pattern morphogenesis in diatom silica



Heintze C, Babenko I, Zackova Suchanova J, Skeffington A, Friedrich BM & Kröger N (2022) The molecular basis for pore pattern morphogenesis in diatom silica. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119 (49).

Biomineral-forming organisms produce inorganic materials with complex, genetically encoded morphologies that are unmatched by current synthetic chemistry. It is poorly understood which genes are involved in biomineral morphogenesis and how the encoded proteins guide this process. We addressed these questions using diatoms, which are paradigms for the self-assembly of hierarchically meso- and macroporous silica under mild reaction conditions. Proteomics analysis of the intracellular organelle for silica biosynthesis led to the identification of new biomineralization proteins. Three of these, coined dAnk1-3, contain a common protein–protein interaction domain (ankyrin repeats), indicating a role in coordinating assembly of the silica biomineralization machinery. Knocking out individual dank genes led to aberrations in silica biogenesis that are consistent with liquid–liquid phase separation as underlying mechanism for pore pattern morphogenesis. Our work provides an unprecedented path for the synthesis of tailored mesoporous silica materials using synthetic biology.

Biomineralization; Mesoporous Silica; Silica Deposition Vesicle; Phase Separation; Ankyrin-Repeat Domain

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Volume 119, Issue 49

FundersDeutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
Publication date06/12/2022
Publication date online02/12/2022
Date accepted by journal13/10/2022
PublisherProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

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Dr Alastair Skeffington

Dr Alastair Skeffington

Lecturer in Environmental Genomics, Biological and Environmental Sciences