We study the effect of isoforms of osteopontin (OPN) on the nucleation and growth of crystals from a supersaturated solution of calcium and phosphate ions. Dynamic light scattering is used to monitor the size of the precipitating particles and to provide information about their concentration. At the ion concentrations studied, immediate precipitation was observed in control experiments with no osteopontin in the solution, and the size of the precipitating particles increased steadily with time. The precipitate was identified as hydroxyapatite by X-ray diffraction. Addition of native osteopontin (nOPN) extracted from rat bone caused a delay in the onset of precipitation and reduced the number of particles that formed, but the few particles that did form grew to a larger size than in the absence of the protein. Recombinant osteopontin (rOPN), which lacks phosphorylation, caused no delay in initial calcium phosphate precipitation but severely slowed crystal growth, suggesting that rOPN inhibits growth but not nucleation. rOPN treated with protein kinase CK2 to phosphorylate the molecule (p-rOPN) produced an effect similar to that of nOPN, but at higher protein concentrations and to a lesser extent. These results suggest that phosphorylations are critical to OPN's ability to inhibit nucleation, whereas the growth of the hydroxyapatite crystals is effectively controlled by the highly acidic OPN polypeptide. This work also demonstrates that dynamic light scattering can be a powerful tool for delineating the mechanism of protein modulation of mineral formation. © 2013 de Bruyn et al.
de Bruyn, J. R., Goiko, M., Mozaffari, M., Bator, D., Dauphinee, R. L., Liao, Y., … Goldberg, H. A. (2013). Dynamic Light Scattering Study of Inhibition of Nucleation and Growth of Hydroxyapatite Crystals by Osteopontin. PLoS ONE, 8(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0056764