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Title: Barnacle cement: A polymerization model based on evolutionary concepts
Authors: Dickinson, G.H. 
Vega, I.E.
Wahl, K.J.
Orihuela, B.
Beyley, V.
Rodriguez, E.N.
Everett, R.K.
Bonaventura, J.
Rittschof, D.
Keywords: Balanus amphitrite
Barnacle cement
Trypsin-like serine protease
Issue Date: 1-Nov-2009
Citation: Dickinson, G.H., Vega, I.E., Wahl, K.J., Orihuela, B., Beyley, V., Rodriguez, E.N., Everett, R.K., Bonaventura, J., Rittschof, D. (2009-11-01). Barnacle cement: A polymerization model based on evolutionary concepts. Journal of Experimental Biology 212 (21) : 3499-3510. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: 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.
Source Title: Journal of Experimental Biology
ISSN: 00220949
DOI: 10.1242/jeb.029884
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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