Localization of the bioadhesive precursors of the sandcastle worm, Phragmatopoma californica (Fewkes)

Ching Shuen Wang, Russell J. Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


The marine sandcastle worm bonds mineral particles together into underwater composite dwellings with a proteinaceous glue. 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, Pcl 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 antisynthetic 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 situ 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-361
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


  • Bioadhesive
  • Dopa
  • Phragmatopoma californica
  • Polychaeta
  • Polyelectrolytes
  • Quinonic cross-linking
  • Sabellariidae
  • Sandcastle worm
  • Tyrosinase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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