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Biol Bull. 2012 Oct;223(2):217-25.

Identification, characterization, and expression levels of putative adhesive proteins from the tube-dwelling polychaete Sabellaria alveolata.

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Université de Mons-UMONS, Laboratoire de Biologie des Organismes Marins et Biomimétisme, 23 Place du Parc, 7000 Mons, Belgium.


The shelter of the tube-dwelling polychaete Sabellaria alveolata is composed of mineral particles assembled with spots of a proteinaceous cement. The adhesive proteins constituting the cement were identified on the basis of their sequence similarity with proteins of a phylogenetically related species, Phragmatopoma californica. Two positively charged proteins, Sa-1 and Sa-2, share common features: they both have a mass of 22 kDa; are rich in glycine, tyrosine and basic residues; and show repeated peptide motifs. The consensus repeat of Sa-1 is KGAYGAKGLGYGNKAGYGAYG (occurring 6-8 times), while Sa-2 displays the consensus heptapeptide VHKAAWG (5 times) and undecapeptide VHKAAGYGGYG (8 times). Two variants of a serine-rich protein, Sa-3A (22 kDa) and Sa-3B (21 kDa), were also identified. Their serine residues account for 75 mol% and are probably phosphorylated, meaning that Sa-3 is very acidic and negatively charged. Moreover, tyrosine residues of all adhesive proteins are presumably modified into DOPA. Although protein sequences are not well-conserved between S. alveolata and P. californica, their main characteristics (including amino acid composition, post-translational modifications, repeated patterns, isoelectric point, and mass) are shared by both species. This suggests that these features are more important for their function than the primary structure of the proteins. The mRNA abundance for each protein was estimated by quantitative real-time PCR, revealing relative expression levels of about 5, 11, 1.5, and 1 for Sa-1, -2, -3A, and -3B, respectively. These levels could be indicative of charge neutralization phenomena or could reflect their function (interface vs. bulk) in the cement.

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