How to get into bones: proton pump and carbonic anhydrase in Osedax boneworms

TitleHow to get into bones: proton pump and carbonic anhydrase in Osedax boneworms
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsTresguerres M, Katz S, Rouse GW
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences
Date Published2013/06
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0962-8452
Accession NumberWOS:000318760500012
Keywordsacid secretion; base secretion; blood alkalosis; boring sponges; dogfish squalus-acanthias; lamellibrachia-luymesi; na+/k+-atpase; osteoclast; penetration; secreting epithelial-cells; shell; Siboglinidae; tubeworm riftia-pachyptila; v-h+-atpase; vacuolar-H+-ATPase; whale-fall

Osedax are gutless siboglinid worms that thrive on vertebrate bones lying on the ocean floor, mainly those of whales. The posterior body of female Osedax penetrates into the bone forming extensions known as 'roots', which host heterotrophic symbiotic bacteria in bacteriocytes beneath the epidermis. The Osedax root epithelium presumably absorbs bone collagen and/or lipids, which are metabolized by the symbiotic bacteria that in turn serve for Osedax's nutrition. Here, we show that Osedax roots express extremely high amounts of vacuolar-H+-ATPase (VHA), which is located in the apical membrane and in cytoplasmic vesicles of root and ovisac epithelial cells. The enzyme carbonic anhydrase (CA), which catalyses the hydration of CO2 into H+ and HCO3-, is also expressed in roots and throughout Osedax body. These results suggest Osedax roots have massive acid-secreting capacity via VHA, fuelled by H+ derived from the CA-catalysed hydration of CO2 produced by aerobic metabolism. We propose the secreted acid dissolves the bone carbonate matrix to then allow the absorption of bone-derived nutrients across the skin. In an exciting example of convergent evolution, this model for acid secretion is remarkably similar to mammalian osteoclast cells. However, while osteoclasts dissolve bone for repairing and remodelling, the Osedax root epithelium secretes acid to dissolve foreign bone to access nutrients.

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