The biology of cartilage. I. Invertebrate cartilages: Limulus gill cartilage

Ames Research Center, NASA, Moffett Field, California 94035; The Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543
Journal of Morphology (Impact Factor: 1.6). 02/2005; 128(1):67 - 93. DOI: 10.1002/jmor.1051280104

ABSTRACT The endoskeletal structure supporting the gill-books of Limulus polyphemus has been investigated by means of light and electron microscopy, chemical analysis and x-ray diffraction. This tissue is a cartilage which has significant correspondences with both vertebrate cartilage and plant tissues. Morphologically, the Limulus cartilage resembles certain cellular vertebrate cartilages with relatively scant matrix, and also certain plant parenchyme, collenchyme and sclerenchyme tissues. Of particular interest, was the observation that during cytoplasmic division, a phragmasome-like structure appears between the daughter cells of the dividing gill cartilage cells. This phragmasome-like structure appears to be a precursor of new matrix (cell-wall) formation between the young chondrocytes, in much the same fashion as its counterpart in plant tissues. Perichondrial cells and underlying chondrocytes contain lipid droplets, abundant glycogen and ribosomes, as do corresponding vertebrate cartilage cells. In some of the Limulus cells, glycogen and ribosomes appear to be admixed with lipid, forming aggregates in which all three materials are in intimate intraparticulate relationship. During molting, the number of ribosomes seen in chondrocytes increases. The tissue contains both hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine, and gives a weak x-ray diffraction pattern.

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    ABSTRACT: Although invertebrate cartilage tissues do not mineralize in nature, it is now reported for the first time that when excised gill cartilage tissue from Limulus (horse shoe crab) is placed in an appropriate incubation medium metastable to hydroxyapatite, mineralization will occur. The mineralization is temperature dependent, and takes place at 37 degrees but not at 20 degrees. Incubations in media metastable to calcite have not produced mineralization. Histologic examination of mineralized tissues showed mineral deposits predominantly within cells, and to a lesser extent in the matrix. X-ray diffraction of the deposited mineral revealed a typical biological hydroxyapatite pattern.
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