The multipart copolyelectrolyte adhesive system of the sandcastle worm: the biological insights for developing a synthetic underwater adhesive

Ching-shuen Wang
Marine Sandcastle worms, Phragmatopoma californica, are tube-building sabellariid polychaetes that inhabit the western coast of North American. Sabellariidae have major impacts on the geology and ecology of shorelines. Individual worms build protective tubular shelters by gluing together mineralized materials with a proteinaceous adhesive. The adhesive is the product of at least four distinct secretory cell types, the contents of which are co-secreted from the building organ during tube
more » ... during tube construction. Prominent hetereogeneous granules contain dense subgranules of Mg and two polyacidic (polyphospho)proteins Pc3A and B, as well as at least two polybasic proteins, Pc1 and Pc4. Equally prominent homogeneous granules comprise at least two polybasic proteins, Pc2 and Pc5, and a sulfated polysaccharide. These distinct sets of oppositely charged components are segregated and packaged into dense secretory granules by electrostatic condensation. Both types of adhesive granules contain latent catechol oxidase, pre primed with oxygen in the active site. After secretion, activated catechol oxidase ensures rapid and spatially homogeneous oxidative crosslinking of L-DOPA of Pc 1 and 2 proteins with limited mixing of the preassembled adhesive packets. Environmental pH changes also rapidly solidify of multipart polyelectrolytic of sandcastle worm adhesive due to formation of polyphosphoprotein Pc3 and Mg complex. 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The products of at least four distinct secretory cell types are co-secreted from the building organ to form the glue. Prominent hetereogeneous granules contain dense sub-granules of Mg and the (polyphospho)proteins Pc3A and B, as well as at least two polybasic proteins, Pc1 and Pc4, as revealed by immunolabeling with specific antibodies against synthetic peptides. Equally prominent homogeneous granules comprise at least two polybasic proteins, Pc2 and Pc5, localized by immunolabeling with anti synthetic peptide antibodies. The components of the sub-micrometer granule types are unknown, though positive staining with a redox-sensitive dye suggests the contents include o-dihydroxy-phenylalanine (dopa). Quantitative PCR and in s itu hybridization demonstrated that a tyrosinase-like enzyme with a signal peptide was highly expressed in both the heterogeneous and homogeneous granules. The contents of the granules are poorly mixed in the secreted mixture that forms the glue. Subsequent covalent cross-linking of the glue may be catalyzed by the co-secreted tyrosinase. The first three parapodia of the sandcastle worm also contain at least two distinct secretory tissues. The Pc4 protein was immunolocalized to the anterior secretory cells and the tryosinase-like gene was expressed in the posterior secretory cells, which suggests these proteins may have multiple roles. Supplem entary material available online at
doi:10.26053/0h-pnsd-hd00 fatcat:xx6ogb3bhjfk7jitny7kldnehy