Correlations Between the Biochemistry and Mechanical States of a Sea-Urchin Ligament: A Mutable Collagenous Structure

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Abstract

Mutable collagenous tissues (MCTs) of echinoderms can be regarded as intelligent and dynamic biomaterials, due to their ability to reversibly change their mechanical properties in a short physiological time span. This mutability phenomenon is nervously mediated and involves secreted factors of the specialized 'juxtaligamental' cells, which, when released into the extracellular matrix (ECM), change the cohesive forces between collagen fibrils. MCTs exist in nature in several forms, including some associated with echinoderm autotomy mechanisms. Since the molecular mechanism of mutability is still incompletely understood, the aim of this work was to provide a detailed biochemical analysis of a typical mutable collagenous structure and to identify possible correlations between its biochemistry and mechanical states. A better understanding of the mutability phenomena is likely to provide a unique opportunity to develop new concepts that can be applied in the design of dynamic biomaterial for tissue regeneration, leading to new strategies in regenerative medicine. The MCT model used was the compass depressor ligament (CDL) of a sea urchin (Paracentrotus lividus), which was analyzed in different mechanical states, mimicking the mutability phenomenon. Spectroscopic techniques, namely Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) and confocal Raman microscopy, were used to identify the specific molecular components that contribute to the CDL biochemical microenvironment and to investigate the possibility that remodelling/synthesis of new ECM components occurs during the mutability phenomenon by analogy with events during pregnancy in the uterine cervix of mammals (which also consists mainly of mechanically adaptable connective tissues). The results demonstrate that CDL ECM includes collagen with biochemical similarities to mammalian type I collagen, as well as sulphated glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). CDL mutability seems to involve a molecular rearrangement of the ECM, without synthesis of new ECM components. Although there were no significant biochemical differences between CDLs in the various mechanical states were observed. However, subtle adjustments in tissue hydration seemed to occur, particularly during stiffening.
Original languageUnknown
Pages (from-to)ART38
JournalBiointerphases
Volume7
Issue number1-4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012

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