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EMBO J. 1994 Oct 3;13(19):4676-83.

A new calcium binding glycoprotein family constitutes a major diatom cell wall component.

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Lehrstuhl für Biochemie I, Universität Regensburg, Germany.


Diatoms possess silica-based cell walls with species-specific structures and ornamentations. Silica deposition in diatoms offers a model to study the processes involved in biomineralization. A new wall is produced in a specialized vesicle (silica deposition vesicle, SDV) and secreted. Thus proteins involved in wall biogenesis may remain associated with the mature cell wall. Here it is demonstrated that EDTA treatment removes most of the proteins present in mature cell walls of the marine diatom Cylindrotheca fusiformis. A main fraction consists of four related glycoproteins with a molecular mass of approximately 75 kDa. These glycoproteins were purified to homogeneity. They consist of repeats of Ca2+ binding domains separated by polypeptide stretches containing hydroxyproline. The proteins in the EDTA extract aggregate and precipitate in the presence of Ca2+. Immunological studies detected related proteins in the cell wall of the freshwater diatom Navicula pelliculosa, indicating that these proteins represent a new family of proteins that are involved in the biogenesis of diatom cell walls.

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