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Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Körnig, A., Bucior, I., Burger, M. M., Anselmetti, D., (2009). Self-recognition and Ca2+-dependent carbohydrate-carbohydrate cell adhesion provide clues to the cambrian explosion Molecular Biology and Evolution , 26, (11), 2551-2561

The Cambrian explosion of life was a relatively short period approximately 540 Ma that marked a generalized acceleration in the evolution of most animal phyla, but the trigger of this key biological event remains elusive. Sponges are the oldest extant Precambrian metazoan phylum and thus a valid model to study factors that could have unleashed the rise of multicellular animals. One such factor is the advent of self-/non-self-recognition systems, which would be evolutionarily beneficial to organisms to prevent germ-cell parasitism or the introduction of deleterious mutations resulting from fusion with genetically different individuals. However, the molecules responsible for allorecognition probably evolved gradually before the Cambrian period, and some other (external) factor remains to be identified as the missing triggering event. Sponge cells associate through calcium-dependent, multivalent carbohydrate-carbohydrate interactions of the g200 glycan found on extracellular proteoglycans. Single molecule force spectroscopy analysis of g200-g200 binding indicates that calcium affects the lifetime (+Ca/-Ca: 680 s/3 s) and bond reaction length (+Ca/-Ca: 3.47 /2.27). Calculation of mean g200 dissociation times in low and high calcium within the theoretical framework of a cooperative binding model indicates the nonlinear and divergent characteristics leading to either disaggregated cells or stable multicellular assemblies, respectively. This fundamental phenomenon can explain a switch from weak to strong adhesion between primitive metazoan cells caused by the well-documented rise in ocean calcium levels at the end of Precambrian time. We propose that stronger cell adhesion allowed the integrity of genetically uniform animals composed only of "self" cells, facilitating genetic constitutions to remain within the metazoan individual and be passed down inheritance lines. The Cambrian explosion might have been triggered by the coincidence in time of primitive animals endowed with self-/non-self-recognition and of a surge in seawater calcium that increased the binding forces between their calcium-dependent cell adhesion molecules.

Keywords: Calcium, Cambrian explosion, Carbohydrates, Cell adhesion, Origin of Metazoa, Sponges


Rodriguez-Segui, S. A., Bucior, I., Burger, M. M., Errachid, A., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2009). Application of the quartz crystal microbalance to the study of multivalent carbohydrate-carbohydrate adhesion Sensor Letters 6th Maghreb-Europe Meeting on Materials and Their Applications for Devices and Physical, Chemical and Biological Sensors , AMER SCIENTIFIC PUBLISHERS (Rabat, Morocco) 7, (5), 782-787

Carbohydrate-carbohydrate interactions in cell adhesion are being increasingly explored as important players in cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix interactions that are characterized by finelytuned on-off rates. The emerging field of glycomics requires the application of new methodologies to the study of the generally weak and multivalent carbohydrate binding sites. Here we use the quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) for the analysis of the self-binding activity of the g200 glycan, a molecule of marine sponge origin that is responsible for Ca2+-dependent species-specific cell adhesion. The QCM has the advantages over other highly sensitive techniques of having only one of the interacting partners bound to a surface, and of lacking microfluidics circuits prone to be clogged by self-aggregating glycans. Our results show that g200 self-interaction is negligible in the absence of Ca2+. Different association kinetics at low and high Ca2+ concentrations suggest the existence of two different Ca2+ binding sites in g200. Finally, the observation of a non-saturable binding indicates that g200 has more than one self-adhesion site per molecule. This work represents the first report to date using the QCM to study carbohydrate-carbohydrate interactions involved in cell adhesion.

Keywords: Ca2+-dependent binding, Carbohydrate-carbohydrate interaction, Cell adhesion, Proteoglycan, Quartz crystal microbalance, Sponges


Rodriguez, Segui, Bucior, I., Burger, M. M., Samitier, J., Errachid, A., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2007). Application of a bio-QCM to study carbohydrates self-interaction in presence of calcium Transducers '07 & Eurosensors Xxi, Digest of Technical Papers 14th International Conference on Solid-State Sensors, Actuators and Microsystems , IEEE (Lyon, France) 1-2, 1995-1998

In the past years, the quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) has been successfully applied to follow interfacial physical chemistry phenomena in a label free and real time manner. However, carbohydrate self adhesion has only been addressed partially using this technique. Carbohydrates play an important role in cell adhesion, providing a highly versatile form of attachment, suitable for biologically relevant recognition events in the initial steps of adhesion. Here, we provide a QCM study of carbohydrates' self-recognition in the presence of calcium, based on a species-specific cell recognition model provided by marine sponges. Our results show a difference in adhesion kinetics when varying either the calcium concentration (with a constant carbohydrate concentration) or the carbohydrate concentration (with constant calcium concentration).

Keywords: Biomedical materials, Calcium, Cellular biophysics, Microbalances, Porous materials, Quartz, Surface chemistry/ bio-QCM, Carbohydrates self-interaction, Quartz crystal microbalance, Interfacial physical chemistry phenomena, Carbohydrate self adhesion, Biologically relevant recognition events, Marine sponges, Adhesion kinetics, Calcium concentration, Carbohydrate concentration, Biosensors, Biomedical materials, Surface chemistry, Cellular biophysics