To identify the cells which produce the extracellular matrix during bivalve wound healing, we observed epithelial regeneration in Pinctada fucata and evaluated the ability of amebocytes to produce the matrix in vitro. Between days 1 and 3 after an ovary was implanted with abiotic material (a shell ball) via an incision, agranular amebocytes formed a sheath, consisting of 10-20 cell layers, between the implant and incised ovarian tissue. Extracellular matrix was deposited in the spaces between the amebocytes in the sheath. At the incised follicle, gonadal epithelial cells were attached to the newly formed matrix. When a mantle allograft (2 mm square) was implanted with abiotic material to bring them into close contact, epithelial cells emigrated from the allograft along the surface of the abiotic material where they attached to the newly formed matrix at the sheath of amebocytes. In vitro, agranular amebocytes formed a matrix composed of fibrils with a diameter of 20 nm during a 6-day culture period. Pepsin-digested extract of the cell layer forming the matrix gave protein bands with electrophoretic mobilities identical to α- and β-sized components of a collagen purified from this animal. The matrix exhibited immunoreaction to antiserum raised against the collagen and was stained by alcian bluc. Thus, the agranular amebocyte apparently has the ability to produce an extracellular matrix containing collagen and possibly proteoglycan(s).
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