Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 157, Issue 6, pp 717–729 | Cite as

Purification and characterization of calcium-binding conchiolin shell peptides from the mollusc,Haliotis rufescens, as a function of development

  • Marios A. Cariolou
  • Daniel E. Morse


Conchiolin peptides of the molluscan shell are believed to determine structural organization and facilitate calcification during shell formation. Changes in patterns of conchiolin synthesis during development, and the possible contribution of these peptides to shell formation, have been investigated by purification and characterization of the soluble peptides extracted from the shell of the gastropod mollusc,Haliotis rufescens (red abalone), at various stages of development. Shell peptides were purified from young post-larvae, juveniles and adults by gel-filtration column chromatography in aggregation-reducing bicarbonate buffers. Calcium-binding domains were detected spectrophotometrically after reaction with a cationic carbocyanine dye. Juvenile and adult shell peptides were found to be heterogeneous, and rich in aspartic acid and glycine residues; in contrast, post-larval shells were found to contain one major glycine-rich component. The juvenile shell peptide population shares components from each of the other two populations, suggesting that the synthesis of the different shell peptides results from the differential expression of a multi-gene family, in a developmentally controlled progression. Enzymatic analyses suggest that calcium binds to the aspartic acid residues of the peptide core, rather than to satellite groups such as phosphate, sulfate or carbohydrate. The possibility is discussed that the aspartic acid residues found in shell peptides may play an important role in the calcification of the abalone shell matrix. The methods demonstrated here also should prove useful for the purification, characterization, and comparative analysis of calcium-binding proteins of connective tissues, extracellular matrices and support structures in many other systems.


Molluscan Shell Aspartic Acid Residue Satellite Group Gastropod Mollusc Peptide Core 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



aspartic acid


bovine serum albumin




ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid


γ-aminobutyric acid


high-pressure liquid chromatography






sodium dodecyl sulfate


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marios A. Cariolou
    • 1
  • Daniel E. Morse
    • 1
  1. 1.Marine Science Institute and Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA

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