We have isolated a new matrix protein family (N16) which is specific to the nacreous layer of the Japanese pearl oyster, Pinctada fucata, and have cloned and characterized the cDNAs coding for the components. Analysis of the deduced amino acid sequence revealed that N16 showed no definitive homology with other proteins. The in vitro studies of the crystallization clarified that N16 induced aragonite crystals when fixed on the substrate but inhibited crystal formation without it. The aragonite crystals showed platy morphology different from those formed inorganically, and long intervals of incubation resulted in crystalline layers highly similar to the nacreous layer.
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