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Prog Mol Subcell Biol. 2005;39:221-50.

Mutable collagenous tissue: overview and biotechnological perspective.

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Department of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University, 70 Cowcaddens Road, Glasgow G4 OBA, Scotland, UK.


The mutable collagenous tissue (MCT) of echinoderms can undergo extreme changes in passive mechanical properties within a timescale of less than 1 s to a few minutes, involving a mechanism that is under direct neural control and coordinated with the activities of muscles. MCT occurs at a variety of anatomical locations in all echinoderm classes, is involved in every investigated echinoderm autotomy mechanism, and provides a mechanism for the energy-sparing maintenance of posture. It is therefore crucially important for the biology of extant echinoderms. This chapter summarises current knowledge of the physiology and organisation of MCT, with particular attention being given to its molecular organisation and the molecular mechanism of mutability. The biotechnological potential of MCT is discussed. It is argued that MCT could be a source of, or inspiration for, (1) new pharmacological agents and strategies designed to manipulate therapeutically connective tissue mechanical properties and (2) new composite materials with biomedical applications.

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