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Proteins found in mosasaur bone

From: Ben Creisler

New paper in PLoS ONE:

Lindgren J, Uvdal P, Engdahl A, Lee AH, Alwmark C, et al. (2011).
Microspectroscopic Evidence of Cretaceous Bone Proteins. 
PLoS ONE 6(4): e19445. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019445


Low concentrations of the structural protein collagen have recently been
reported in dinosaur fossils based primarily on mass spectrometric analyses
of whole bone extracts. However, direct spectroscopic characterization of
isolated fibrous bone tissues, a crucial test of hypotheses of biomolecular
preservation over deep time, has not been performed. Here, we demonstrate
that endogenous proteinaceous molecules are retained in a humerus from a
Late Cretaceous mosasaur (an extinct giant marine lizard). In situ
immunofluorescence of demineralized bone extracts shows reactivity to
antibodies raised against type I collagen, and amino acid analyses of
soluble proteins extracted from the bone exhibit a composition indicative
of structural proteins or their breakdown products. These data are
corroborated by synchrotron radiation-based infrared microspectroscopic
studies demonstrating that amino acid containing matter is located in bone
matrix fibrils that express imprints of the characteristic 67 nm
D-periodicity typical of collagen. Moreover, the fibrils differ
significantly in spectral signature from those of potential modern
bacterial contaminants, such as biofilms and collagen-like proteins. Thus,
the preservation of primary soft tissues and biomolecules is not limited to
large-sized bones buried in fluvial sandstone environments, but also occurs
in relatively small-sized skeletal elements deposited in marine sediments.

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