From sporadic single genes to a broader transcriptomic approach: Insights into the formation of the biomineralized exoskeleton in decapod crustaceans

Shai A. Shaked, Shai Abehsera, Tom Levy, Vered Chalifa-Caspi, Amir Sagi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


One fundamental character common to pancrustaceans (Crustacea and Hexapoda) is a mineralized rigid exoskeleton whose principal organic components are chitin and proteins. In contrast to traditional research in the field that has been devoted to the structural and physicochemical aspects of biomineralization, the present study explores transcriptomic aspects of biomineralization as a first step towards adding a complementary molecular layer to this field. The rigidity of the exoskeleton in pancrustaceans dictates essential molt cycles enabling morphological changes and growth. Thus, formation and mineralization of the exoskeleton are concomitant to the timeline of the molt cycle. Skeletal proteinaceous toolkit elements have been discovered in previous studies using innovative molt-related binary gene expression patterns derived from transcriptomic libraries representing the major stages comprising the molt cycle of the decapod crustacean Cherax quadricarinatus. Here, we revisited some prominent exoskeleton-related structural proteins encoding and, using the above molt-related binary pattern methodology, enlarged the transcriptomic database of C. quadricarinatus. The latter was done by establishing a new transcriptomic library of the cuticle forming epithelium and molar tooth at four different molt stages (i.e., inter-molt, early pre-molt, late pre-molt and post-molt) and incorporating it to a previous transcriptome derived from the gastroliths and mandible. The wider multigenic approach facilitated by the newly expanded transcriptomic database not only revisited single genes of the molecular toolkit, but also provided both scattered and specific information that broaden the overview of proteins and gene clusters which are involved in the construction and biomineralization of the exoskeleton in decapod crustaceans.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107612
JournalJournal of Structural Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2020


  • Biomineralization
  • Cherax quadricarinatus
  • Cuticle
  • Exoskeleton
  • Gastrolith
  • Transcriptomic library

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology


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