Sohn Joel J.

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Sohn
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Joel J.
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  • Article
    Construction and composition of the squid pen from Doryteuthis pealeii
    (University of Chicago Press, 2019-07-08) Messerli, Mark A. ; Raihan, M. Jahir ; Kobylkevich, Brian M. ; Benson, Austin C. ; Bruening, Kristi S. ; Shribak, Michael ; Rosenthal, Joshua J. C. ; Sohn, Joel J.
    The pen, or gladius, of the squid is an internalized shell. It serves as a site of attachment for important muscle groups and as a protective barrier for the visceral organs. The pen’s durability and flexibility are derived from its unique composition of chitin and protein. We report the characterization of the structure, development, and composition of pens from Doryteuthis pealeii. The nanofibrils of the polysaccharide β-chitin are arranged in an aligned configuration in only specific regions of the pen. Chitin is secreted early in development, enabling us to characterize the changes in pen morphology prior to hatching. The chitin and proteins are assembled in the shell sac surrounded by fluid that has a significantly different ionic composition from squid plasma. Two groups of proteins are associated with the pen: those on its surface and those embedded within the pen. Only 20 proteins are identified as embedded within the pen. Embedded proteins are classified into six groups, including chitin associated, protease, protease inhibitors, intracellular, extracellular matrix, and those that are unknown. The pen proteins share many conserved domains with proteins from other chitinous structures. We conclude that the pen is one of the least complex, load-bearing, chitin-rich structures currently known and is amenable to further studies to elucidate natural construction mechanisms using chitin and protein.