Giant Bent-Core Mesogens in the Thread Forming Process of Marine Mussels

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

In marine mussels (Mytilus), byssal threads are made in minutes from prefabricated smectic polymer liquid crystals by a process resembling reaction injection molding. The mesogens in these arrays are known to be natural block copolymers with rodlike collagen cores. Using atomic force microscopy, it was shown that these collagenous mesogens are bent-core or banana-shaped in a manner that is consistent with and predictable from their amino acid sequence. The overall bend angle in preCOL-NG in Mytilus galloprovincialis is about 130°. The mesogens have a center-to-center separation of approximately 22 nm and a length of 200 nm. It is evident that the smectic structure of the prefabricated mesophases remains largely intact over 1-3 μm distances in the molded fibers and is presumably locked in place during molding by cross-linking. Like the smectic liquid crystals of many synthetic banana mesogens, the collagenous mesogens of the byssal threads exhibit SmC2 symmetry with a characteristic tilt of 24.6°. At about 100% extension, this tilt is considerably reduced and the globular end domains are no longer visible presumably because they have been unraveled.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)1351-1355
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes

ID: 288850249