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J Biol Chem. 2006 Apr 21;281(16):11090-6. Epub 2006 Feb 22.

Probing the adhesive footprints of Mytilus californianus byssus.

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  • 1Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Marine Science Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA.


California mussels Mytilus californianus owe their tenacity to a holdfast known as the byssus, a fibrous extracellular structure that ends distally in flattened adhesive plaques. The "footprints" of freshly secreted plaques deposited onto glass coverslips were shown by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time of flight mass spectrometry to consist chiefly of proteins ranging in mass from 5200 to 6700 Da. These proteins, variants of a family known as mcfp3 (M. californianus foot protein 3), were purified from acetic acid/urea extracts of plaques and foot tissue. Mcfp3 appears to sort into fast and slow electrophoretic variants. Both are rich in Gly and Asn and exhibit post-translational hydroxylation of Tyr and Arg to Dopa and 4-hydroxyarginine, respectively, with the fast variant containing more than twice as much Lys + Arg. Both the slow and fast variants were partially sequenced from the N terminus, and the complete sequences of 12 variants were deduced from cDNA using degenerate oligonucleotides, PCR, and rapid amplification of cDNA ends. Mcfp3s are highly polar molecules and contain up to 28 mol % Dopa, which remains intact and may be crucial for adhesion to metal and mineral surfaces.

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