Evidence of low molecular weight components in the organic matrix of the reef building coral, Stylophora pistillata

Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2007 Aug;147(4):850-6. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2006.10.045. Epub 2007 Apr 6.


Biominerals contain both inorganic and organic components. Organic components are collectively termed the organic matrix, and this matrix has been reported to play a crucial role in mineralization. Several matrix proteins have been characterized in vertebrates, but only a few in invertebrates, primarily in Molluscs and Echinoderms. Methods classically used to extract organic matrix proteins eliminate potential low molecular weight matrix components, since cut-offs ranging from 3.5 to 10 kDa are used to desalt matrix extracts. Consequently, the presence of such components remains unknown and these are never subjected to further analyses. In the present study, we have used microcolonies from the Scleractinian coral Stylophora pistillata to study newly synthesized matrix components by labelling them with 14C-labelled amino acids. Radioactive matrix components were investigated by a method in which both total organic matrix and fractions of matrix below and above 5 kDa were analyzed. Using this method and SDS-PAGE analyses, we were able to detect the presence of low molecular mass matrix components (<3.5 kDa), but no free amino acids in the skeletal organic matrix. Since more than 98% of the 14C-labelled amino acids were incorporated into low molecular weight molecules, these probably form the bulk of newly synthesized organic matrix components. Our results suggest that these low molecular weight components may be peptides, which can be involved in the regulation of coral skeleton mineralization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthozoa / chemistry*
  • Aspartic Acid / metabolism
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Glycine / metabolism
  • Molecular Weight
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Time Factors


  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Proteins
  • Aspartic Acid
  • Glycine