Extracellular DNA: A Missing Link in the Pathogenesis of Ectopic Mineralization

Min juan Shen, Kai Jiao, Chen yu Wang, Hermann Ehrlich, Mei chen Wan, Dong xiao Hao, Jing Li, Qian qian Wan, Lige Tonggu, Jian fei Yan, Kai yan Wang, Yu xuan Ma, Ji hua Chen, Franklin R. Tay, Li na Niu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Although deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the genetic coding for the very essence of life, these macromolecules or components thereof are not necessarily lost after a cell dies. There appears to be a link between extracellular DNA and biomineralization. Here the authors demonstrate that extracellular DNA functions as an initiator of collagen intrafibrillar mineralization. This is confirmed with in vitro and in vivo biological mineralization models. Because of their polyanionic property, extracellular DNA molecules are capable of stabilizing supersaturated calcium phosphate solution and mineralizing 2D and 3D collagen matrices completely as early as 24 h. The effectiveness of extracellular DNA in biomineralization of collagen is attributed to the relatively stable formation of amorphous liquid droplets triggered by attraction of DNA to the collagen fibrils via hydrogen bonding. These findings suggest that extracellular DNA is biomimetically significant for fabricating inorganic–organic hybrid materials for tissue engineering. DNA-induced collagen intrafibrillar mineralization provides a clue to the pathogenesis of ectopic mineralization in different body tissues. The use of DNase for targeting extracellular DNA at destined tissue sites provides a potential solution for treatment of diseases associated with ectopic mineralization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2103693
JournalAdvanced Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 14 2022


  • amorphous calcium phosphate
  • biomineralization
  • collagen
  • ectopic calcification
  • extracellular nucleic acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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