Barnacle cement: a polymerization model based on evolutionary concepts.
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Enzymes and biochemical mechanisms essential to survival are under extreme selective pressure and are highly conserved through evolutionary time. We applied this evolutionary concept to barnacle cement polymerization, a process critical to barnacle fitness that involves aggregation and cross-linking of proteins. The biochemical mechanisms of cement polymerization remain largely unknown. We hypothesized that this process is biochemically similar to blood clotting, a critical physiological response that is also based on aggregation and cross-linking of proteins. Like key elements of vertebrate and invertebrate blood clotting, barnacle cement polymerization was shown to involve proteolytic activation of enzymes and structural precursors, transglutaminase cross-linking and assembly of fibrous proteins. Proteolytic activation of structural proteins maximizes the potential for bonding interactions with other proteins and with the surface. Transglutaminase cross-linking reinforces cement integrity. Remarkably, epitopes and sequences homologous to bovine trypsin and human transglutaminase were identified in barnacle cement with tandem mass spectrometry and/or western blotting. Akin to blood clotting, the peptides generated during proteolytic activation functioned as signal molecules, linking a molecular level event (protein aggregation) to a behavioral response (barnacle larval settlement). Our results draw attention to a highly conserved protein polymerization mechanism and shed light on a long-standing biochemical puzzle. We suggest that barnacle cement polymerization is a specialized form of wound healing. The polymerization mechanism common between barnacle cement and blood may be a theme for many marine animal glues.
SubjectAmino Acid Sequence
Microscopy, Atomic Force
Molecular Sequence Data
Tandem Mass Spectrometry
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1242/jeb.029884
Publication InfoDickinson, GH; Vega, IE; Wahl, KJ; Orihuela, B; Beyley, V; Rodriguez, EN; ... Rittschof, D (2009). Barnacle cement: a polymerization model based on evolutionary concepts. J Exp Biol, 212(Pt 21). 10.1242/jeb.029884. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/653.
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