Structural characterisation of the N-glycan moiety of the barnacle settlement-inducing protein complex (SIPC)

J Exp Biol. 2012 Apr 1;215(Pt 7):1192-8. doi: 10.1242/jeb.063503.


Many barnacle species are gregarious and their cypris larvae display a remarkable ability to explore surfaces before committing to permanent attachment. The chemical cue to gregarious settlement behaviour - the settlement-inducing protein complex (SIPC) - is an α(2)-macroglobulin-like glycoprotein. This cuticular protein may also be involved in cyprid reversible adhesion if its presence is confirmed in footprints of adhesive deposited during exploratory behaviour, which increase the attractiveness of surfaces and signal other cyprids to settle. The full-length open-reading frame of the SIPC gene encodes a protein of 1547 amino acids with seven potential N-glycosylation sites. In this study on Balanus amphitrite, glycan profiling of the SIPC via hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography with fluorescence detection (HILIC-fluorescence) provided evidence of predominantly high mannose glycans (M2-9), with the occurrence of monofucosylated oligomannose glycans (F(6)M2-4) in lower proportions. The high mannose glycosylation found supports previous observations of an interaction with mannose-binding lectins and exogenous mannose increasing settlement in B. amphitrite cypris larvae. Transmission electron microscopy of the deglycosylated SIPC revealed a multi-lobed globular protein with a diameter of ~8 nm. Obtaining a complete structural characterisation of the SIPC remains a goal that has the potential to inspire solutions to the age-old problem of barnacle fouling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Fluorescence
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Multiprotein Complexes / chemistry*
  • Multiprotein Complexes / metabolism
  • Multiprotein Complexes / ultrastructure
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry*
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • Seawater
  • Solutions
  • Thoracica / metabolism*


  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • Polysaccharides
  • Proteins
  • Solutions