Materials Today Bio, vol.17, 2022 (SCI-Expanded)
© 2022Nature has a vast array of biomineralization mechanisms. The commonly shared mechanism by many living organisms to form hardened tissues is the nucleation of mineral structures via proteins. Living materials, thanks to synthetic biology, are providing many opportunities to program cells for many functionalities. Here we have demonstrated a living material system for biosilicification. Silaffins are utilized to synthesize silicified cell walls by one of the most abundant organism groups called diatoms. The R5 peptide motif of the silaffins is known for its ability to precipitate silica in ambient conditions. Therefore, various studies have been conducted to implement the silicification activity of R5 in different application areas, such as regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. However, laborious protein purification steps are required prior to silica nanoparticle production in recombinant approaches. In this study, we aimed to engineer an alternative bacterial platform to achieve silicification using released and bacteria-intact forms of R5-attached fluorescent proteins (FP). Hence, we displayed R5-FP hybrids on the cell surface of E. coli via antigen 43 (Ag43) autotransporter system and managed to demonstrate heat-controllable release from the surface. We also showed that the bacteria cells displaying R5-FP can be used in silicification reactions. Lastly, considering the stimulating effect of silica on osteogenic differentiation, we treated human dental pulp stem cells (hDPSCs) with the silica aggregates formed via R5-FP hybrids. Earlier calcium crystal deposition around the hDPSCs was observed. We envision that our platform can serve as a faster and more economical alternative for biosilicification applications, including endodontics.