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Article: Model Study of Epithelial Motility
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ABSTRACT: During the adhesive locomotion of land snails a series of short dark transverse bands, called pedal or foot waves, is visible ifa moving snail's ventral surface is observed through a sheet of glass. Moreover, the mucus secreted from the pedal glands and some pedal epithelial cells forms a thin layer which acts as a glue augmenting adherence, while also acting as a lubricant under the moving parts of the snail's foot. The relationships between velocity and the frequency of pedal waves as well as changes in the volume of small air bubbles under foot waves were analyzed by means of digital recordings made through a glass sheet on which the snails were moving. On the ventral surface of a moving snail foot, the adhering parts of the foot constituted about 80% of the total area, while several moving parts only about 20%. The single moving region of the foot (the pedal wave) amounted to about 3% of snail length. The epithelium in the region of the pedal wave was arched above the substrate and was also more wrinkled than the stationary epithelium, which enabled the forward motion of each specific point of epithelium during the passage of a pedal wave above it. The actual area of epithelium engaged by a pedal wave was at least 30% greater than the area of the epithelium as recorded through a glass sheet. In the region of the pedal wave, the tiny subepithelial muscles acting on the epithelium move it up in the front part of the wave, and then down at the end of the wave, operating vertically in relation to the substrate. In the middle part of the wave, the epithelium only moves forward. In summary, during the adhesive locomotion of snails, the horizontal movement of the ventral surface epithelium proceeds as temporally separate phases of upward, forward and downward movement.