, Volume 151, Issue 1, pp 71-83
Date: 30 Sep 2006

Characterization and role of carbonic anhydrase in the calcification process of the azooxanthellate coral Tubastrea aurea

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In zooxanthellate corals, the photosynthetic fixation of carbon dioxide and the precipitation of CaCO3 are intimately linked both spatially and temporally making it difficult to study carbon transport mechanisms involved in each pathway. When studying Tubastrea aurea, a coral devoid of zooxanthellae, we can focus on carbon transport mechanisms involved only in the calcification process. We performed this study to characterize T. aurea carbonic anhydrase and to determine its role in the calcification process. We have shown that inhibition of tissular carbonic anhydrase activity affects the calcification rate. We have measured the activity of this enzyme both in the tissues and in the organix matrix extracted from the skeleton. Our results indicate that organic matrix proteins, which are synthesized by the calcifying tissues, are not only structural proteins, but they also play a crucial catalytic role by eliminating the kinetic barrier to interconversion of inorganic carbon at the calcification site. By immunochemistry we have demonstrated the presence of a protein both in the tissues and in the organic matrix, which shares common features with prokaryotic carbonic anhydrases.

Communicated by S.A. Poulet, Roscoff.