June 26, 2024
Staff Accomplishment

PNNL Scientists Receive a Best Paper Award from International Association for Dental Research Group

Research demonstrates how to direct mineralization patterns with templated peptide nanoribbons

Illustration of patterned nanoribbons with carbonate mineralization in progress

Work on polymer-based templating for assembling peptide nanoribbons that guide crystallization of calcium phosphate was recognized with an award from the International Association for Dental Research Mineralized Tissue Group.

(Illustration by Michael C. Perkins | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

A research paper from a collaborative team including Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) researchers received a best scientific paper award from the Mineralized Tissue Group (MTG) of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR). The award was presented at the 2024 IADR meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana to the study lead, Susrut Akkineni, a former researcher at the University of Washington and PNNL.

The paper, published in Nano Letters, explores how to direct mineralization using polymer-templated peptides. Mineralization in biological systems is how crystals in tissues such as teeth and bones form. Their complex internal structures require mineralization to occur in specific patterns and are often guided by proteins in nature.

Researchers placed peptide sub-sequences of amelogenin, a large protein associated with tooth enamel formation, on novel polymer-based nanoscale patterns. The patterning was done using block copolymers, a type of polymer that contains at least two different “blocks” of polymer components. The peptides were selectively assembled into two-dimensional, amyloid-like nanoribbons on one of the two blocks of the copolymer pattern before directing the mineralization process. Once calcium phosphate mineralization was initiated, the mineral grew and remained confined to the patterned templates formed by the nanoribbons.

“To create complex materials from scratch using biomimetic methods, we need the ability to understand and demonstrate control over the process and product at every stage,” said Akkineni. “Our work provides a general platform to do this and shows that the approach can generate structures and patterns found in human enamel.”

IADR is a global research organization that focuses on research relevant to dental, oral, and craniofacial health. The MTG is a highly interdisciplinary group composed of scientists whose work involves understanding enamel, dentin, cementum, and bone mineralization. Members come from fields including biology, chemistry, mineralogy, and materials science.

“It’s an honor to have our work recognized by the IADR MTG,” said Jim De Yoreo, a Battelle Fellow at PNNL and Akkineni’s mentor.

In addition to De Yoreo and Akkineni, the PNNL team includes Shuai Zhang, Chenyang Shi, and Biao Jin, who performed infrared and electron microscopy. Other team members are Stefan Habelitz of the University of California, San Francisco, who co-supervised the project with De Yoreo, and Gregory Doerk of the Center for Functional Nanomaterials, Brookhaven National Laboratory, NY, who synthesized the patterned block copolymer surfaces.

Published: June 26, 2024