Histidine is an amino acid present in proteins involved in biosilica formation and often found in peptides identified during phage display studies but its role(s) and the extent of its involvement in the silica precipitation process is not fully understood. In this contribution we describe results from an in vitro silicification study conducted using poly-histidine (P-His) and a series of different molecular weight synthetic polymers containing the imidazole functionality (polyvinyl imidazole, PVI) for comparison. We show that the presence of imidazole from PVI or P-His is able to catalyze silicic acid condensation; the effect being greater for P-His. The catalytic mechanism is proposed to involve the dual features of the imidazole group-its ability to form hydrogen bonds with silicic acid and electrostatic attraction toward oligomeric silicic acid species.
- imidazole catalyzed silica synthesis