Crucial events in biomineral formation—such as compartmentalization, supersaturation, precipitation, export of macromolecules, and cessation (Lowenstam and Weiner 1989)—require a “referee” who can control these events with precision and fidelity. This job falls to the cell, and in particular, a specialized cell, such as an osteoblast, odontoblast, mantle epithelium, or bacterium who has evolved or differentiated into a “molecular factory” that generates and controls the biomineralization process. Thus, to understand how biominerals form, we must first revisit basic concepts in biology that explain how cells function at the molecular level. This information will provide us with a basis for...

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