Vaterite is one of the thermodynamically less stable polymorphs of calcium carbonate. Under ambient conditions it transforms into calcite, the most stable form of calcium carbonate. Organisms are able to stabilize minerals such as vaterite by means of organic molecules. The exact mechanisms how biomineralization proteins interact with metastable mineral phases are, however, less well understood. Many in vitro studies were performed using calcite as a model system. A deeper understanding of the interaction of organic molecules with metastable mineral phases would make them useful as a tool to control mineralization processes in vitro. In this study, we report on the co-precipitation of a natively soluble histidine-tagged GFP (green fluorecent protein) with a metastable vaterite phase and the subsequent insolubility of the fluorescent organic matrix in a 30μl calcium carbonate precipitation assay. The intrinsic fluorescence of GFP is conserved during the interaction with the mineral phase, indicating proper folding even in the insoluble state. This experiment can be extended to obtain deeper insights into some mechanistic models of biomineralization proteins by tracking native and modified GFP proteins microscopically during various stages of mineral precipitation and dissolution.
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