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Biol Open. 2018 Oct 31;7(11). pii: bio037358. doi: 10.1242/bio.037358.

Involvement of sulfated biopolymers in adhesive secretions produced by marine invertebrates.

Author information

1
Cell Biology Unit, Research Institute for Biosciences, University of Mons, 23 Place du Parc, 7000 Mons, Belgium.
2
Biology of Marine Organisms and Biomimetics Unit, Research Institute for Biosciences, University of Mons, 23 Place du Parc, 7000 Mons, Belgium.
3
Biology of Marine Organisms and Biomimetics Unit, Research Institute for Biosciences, University of Mons, 23 Place du Parc, 7000 Mons, Belgium Patrick.Flammang@umons.ac.be.

Abstract

Many marine invertebrates use adhesive secretions to attach to underwater surfaces and functional groups borne by their adhesive proteins and carbohydrates, such as catechols and phosphates, play a key role in adhesion. The occurrence of sulfates as recurrent moieties in marine bioadhesives suggests that they could also be involved. However, in most cases, their presence in the adhesive material remains speculative. We investigated the presence of sulfated biopolymers in five marine invertebrates representative of the four types of adhesion encountered in the sea: mussels and tubeworms for permanent adhesion, limpets for transitory adhesion, sea stars for temporary adhesion and sea cucumbers for instantaneous adhesion. The dry adhesive material of mussels, sea stars and sea cucumbers contained about 1% of sulfate. Using anti-sulfotyrosine antibodies and Alcian Blue staining, sulfated proteins and sulfated proteoglycans and/or polysaccharides were identified in the secretory cells and adhesive secretions of all species except the tubeworm. Sulfated proteoglycans appear to play a role only in the non-permanent adhesion of sea stars and limpets in which they could mediate cohesion within the adhesive material. In mussels and sea cucumbers, sulfated biopolymers would rather have an anti-adhesive function, precluding self-adhesion.

KEYWORDS:

Limpet; Marine adhesion; Mussel; Sea cucumber; Sea star; Sulfate; Tubeworm

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interestsThe authors declare no competing or financial interests.

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