Research Summary: Evagination of Cells Controls Bio-Silica Formation and Maturation during Spicule Formation in Sponges


The enzymatic-silicatein mediated formation of the skeletal elements, the spicules of siliceous sponges starts intracellularly and is completed extracellularly. With Suberites domuncula we show that the axial growth of the spicules proceeds in three phases: (I) formation of an axial canal; (II) evagination of a cell process into the axial canal, and (III) assembly of the axial filament composed of silicatein. During these phases the core part of the spicule is synthesized. Silicatein and its substrate silicate are stored in silicasomes, found both inside and outside of the cellular extension within the axial canal, as well as all around the spicule. The membranes of the silicasomes are interspersed by pores of ≈2 nm that are likely associated with aquaporin channels which are implicated in the hardening of the initial bio-silica products formed by silicatein. We can summarize the sequence of events that govern spicule formation as follows: differential genetic readout (of silicatein) → fractal association of the silicateins → evagination of cells by hydro-mechanical forces into the axial canal → and finally processive biosilica polycondensation around the axial canal. We termed this process, occurring sequentially or in parallel, bioinorganic selforganization.


Publisher: Public Library of Science

Date Published: 2-June-2011

Author(s): Wang X., Wiens M., Schröder H., Schloßmacher U., Pisignano D., Jochum K., Müller W.


Leave a Reply