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Finding Order in Chaos: Scientists Determine the Structure of Glass-shaping Protein in Sponges

Published on in PRESS RELEASES

Sponges are some of the oldest animals on Earth. They live in a wide range of waters, from lakes to deep oceans. Remarkably, the skeleton of some sponges is built out of a network of highly symmetrical glass structures. These glass scaffolds have intrigued researchers for a long time. How do sponges manipulate disordered glass into the skeletal elements which are so regular? Researchers from B CUBE – Center for Molecular Bioengineering at TU Dresden together with the teams from the Center for Advancing Electronics Dresden (cfaed) / Dresden Center for Nanoanalysis (DCN) and the Swiss Light Source at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland are the first to determine the three dimensional (3D) structure of a protein responsible for glass formation in sponges. They explain how the earliest and, in fact, the only known natural protein-mineral crystal is formed. The results were published in the journal “PNAS.” more.

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