Location and expression of frustulins in the pennate diatoms Cylindrotheca fusiformis, Navicula pelliculosa, and Navicula salinarum (Bacillariophyceae)

WH van de Poll, EG Vrieling*, WWC Gieskes

*Corresponding author for this work

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    A detailed immunocytochemical and biochemical study of the location and expression of frustulins, a family of proteins associated with the frustules of diatoms, has been performed for Cylindrotheca fusiformis Reimann et Lewin, Navicula pelliculosa (Brebisson et Kutzing) Hilse, and Navicula salinarum (Grunow) Husted. Immunocytochemistry revealed that frustulins, which share homologous epitopes but are different in size, were predominantly located in the organic casing. Eased on timed immunolocalization experiments and Western blotting analysis of cell extracts obtained sequentially after repleting silicate to Si-synchronized cells, the continuous presence of the frustulins in the mature and parental organic casing of the examined species was observed. The frustulins of N. pelliculosa appeared as proteins similar to those of C. fusiformis, sharing identical epitopes. The extractions, however, yielded a markedly lower abundance of frustulins in N. pelliculosa. Peak concentrations of extracted frustulins appeared to be expressed just ahead of the silicification process in C. fusiformis, whereas the level of expression in N. pelliculosa increased along with maturation of the new valves. For N. salinarum, the presence of the frustulins could not be confirmed properly by Western blotting; most probably because of the small sample volumes, inefficient extraction, and a lower amount of homologous frustulins in the casing of this species. It is concluded that the frustulins of these species are not associated with the silicalemma of the newly formed silica deposition vesicles and therefore do not seem to be involved in the silicification process itself. Overall, the results imply a structural role of the frustulins in the casing of diatoms rather than a regulation of the silicification process.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1044-1053
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Phycology
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Oct-1999


    • Bacillariophyceae
    • casing
    • diatoms
    • frustule
    • frustulins
    • immunocytochemistry
    • Si synchronization
    • western blotting

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