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A novel ferritin subunit involved in shell formation from the pearl oyster (Pinctada fucata).

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Institute of Marine Biotechnology, Department of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology, Tsinghua University, Beijing, 100084, PR China.


Iron is one of the most important minor elements in the shell of bivalves. This study was designed to investigate the involvement of ferritin, the principal protein for iron storage, in shell formation. A novel ferritin cDNA from the pearl oyster (Pinctada fucata) was isolated and characterized. The ferritin cDNA encodes a 206 amino acid polypeptide, which shares high similarity with snail soma ferritin and the H-chains of mammalian ferritins. Oyster ferritin mRNA shows the highest level of expression in the mantle, the organ for shell formation. In situ hybridization analysis revealed that oyster ferritin mRNA is expressed at the highest level at the mantle fold, a region essential for metal accumulation and contributes to metal incorporation into the shell. Taken together, these results suggest that ferritin is involved in shell formation by iron storage. The identification and characterization of oyster ferritin also helps to further understand the structural and functional properties of molluscan ferritins.

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