Polymer adhesion to wet mineral surfaces is typically limited by the lack of polymer- surface interactions strong enough to compete with water. Marine mussels overcome this limitation by using a suite of specific DOPA-containing proteins that chemically bind even to wet, atomically smooth surfaces. Protein biochemistry and surface physics are combined in this proposal to investigate the adhesive strategies of mussels on surfaces of hydroxyapatite - the mineral of tooth and bone. In the first aim, mass spectrometry and molecular surface sensors will be used to interrogate the proteins, pH, redox, and water fastness of adhesive secretions deposited onto hydroxyapatite.
In aim 2, hydroxyapatite-specific proteins will be tested for adhesion in the surface forces apparatus using the pH and redox conditions used in mussel adhesion. In the third aim, a 3-dimensional surface forces apparatus will be introduced to measure the effect of multidirectional motion on the dynamic adhesion of mussel-derived proteins to dentinal and enamel surfaces.

Public Health Relevance

Tooth decay is inevitable to some extent in humans. The adhesive performance of dental resins used to restore or repair damaged/decayed teeth is based primarily on micromechanical interlocking between the resin and the acid-etched biomineral surface. With ageing, resin adhesion weakens as water re-enters and interlocks deteriorate, hence necessitating a filling replacement. Identification of the chemical binding motifs in mussel adhesion could significantly improve the lifetime of dental restorations.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
Research Project (R01)
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Biomaterials and Biointerfaces Study Section (BMBI)
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Lopez, Orlando
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University of California Santa Barbara
Schools of Arts and Sciences
Santa Barbara
United States
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