Format

Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Struct Biol. 2014 Jan;185(1):99-106. doi: 10.1016/j.jsb.2013.10.007. Epub 2013 Oct 21.

Skin lipid structure controls water permeability in snake molts.

Author information

  • 1Centro Interdipartimentale per la Ricerca per le Scienze Ambientali (C.I.R.S.A.), Università di Bologna, via S. Alberto 163, Ravenna, Italy.
  • 2Dipartimento di Chimica delle Sostanze Naturali, Università di Napoli Federico II, via Montesano 49, 80131 Napoli, Italy.
  • 3Dipartimento di Biologia Sperimentale, Università di Bologna, via Selmi 3, 40126 Bologna, Italy.
  • 4Dipartimento di Chimica "G. Ciamician", Università di Bologna, via Selmi 2, 40126 Bologna, Italy.
  • 5Istituto per la Sintesi Organica e la Fotoreattività, C.N.R., via Selmi 2, 40126 Bologna, Italy.
  • 6European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, F-38043 Grenoble, France.
  • 7Centro Interdipartimentale per la Ricerca per le Scienze Ambientali (C.I.R.S.A.), Università di Bologna, via S. Alberto 163, Ravenna, Italy; Dipartimento di Chimica "G. Ciamician", Università di Bologna, via Selmi 2, 40126 Bologna, Italy.
  • 8Centro Interdipartimentale per la Ricerca per le Scienze Ambientali (C.I.R.S.A.), Università di Bologna, via S. Alberto 163, Ravenna, Italy; Dipartimento di Chimica "G. Ciamician", Università di Bologna, via Selmi 2, 40126 Bologna, Italy. Electronic address: giuseppe.falini@unibo.it.

Abstract

The role of lipids in controlling water exchange is fundamentally a matter of molecular organization. In the present study we have observed that in snake molt the water permeability drastically varies among species living in different climates and habitats. The analysis of molts from four snake species: tiger snake, Notechis scutatus, gabon viper, Bitis gabonica, rattle snake, Crotalus atrox, and grass snake, Natrix natrix, revealed correlations between the molecular composition and the structural organization of the lipid-rich mesos layer with control in water exchange as a function of temperature. It was discovered, merging data from micro-diffraction and micro-spectroscopy with those from thermal, NMR and chromatographic analyses, that this control is generated from a sophisticated structural organization that changes size and phase distribution of crystalline domains of specific lipid molecules as a function of temperature. Thus, the results of this research on four snake species suggest that in snake skins different structured lipid layers have evolved and adapted to different climates. Moreover, these lipid structures can protect, "safety", the snakes from water lost even at temperatures higher than those of their usual habitat.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

KEYWORDS:

Adaptation; Evolution; Lipid structure; Snake skin; Water permeability

PMID:
24157843
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk