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Multifarious activities of gut epithelium in an appendicularian (Oikopleura dioica: Tunicata)
Cima, F.; Brena, C.; Burighel, P. (2002). Multifarious activities of gut epithelium in an appendicularian (Oikopleura dioica: Tunicata). Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 141(3): 479-490.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Cima, F.
  • Brena, C.
  • Burighel, P.

    The functions of the various gut regions of Oikopleura dioica (oesophagus, left and right gastric lobes, vertical intestine, mid-intestine and rectum) were investigated by means of histochemical, histoenzymatic and immunohistochemical techniques at light and electron microscopes. Ciliary food progression is evidenced by the presence of ATPases on cilia, along the entire gut, with the exception of the cardiac valve, a passive device controlling food direction. Absorptive processes (alkaline phosphatase), active transport (ATPases) and nitrogen excretion (D-amino acid oxidase) occur along the entire gut, in both ciliated microvillar and globular cells. The latter, typical of the left gastric lobe and rectum, are also involved in endocytotic processes (exogenous peroxidase as tracer) and intracellular digestion (a-amylase, aminopeptidase M, acid phosphatase, 5'-nucleotidase, non-specific esterase). The giant cells of the gastric band participate in extracellular digestion; they contain secretory granules positive to various hydrolytic enzymes, the activity of which is also recognisable in faecal pellets inside the intestinal lumen. Lipid storage occurs mainly in the right gastric lobe and vertical intestine, whereas protein storage takes place in the rectal granular cells. Epithelial transport and possible osmoregulation occur along the entire gut, especially at the level of diffuse baso-lateral interdigitations, which increase the plasmalemma surface enormously, are often associated with mitochondria and possess numerous ATPase pumps. Data extend previous histological observations and hypotheses on the physiological role of the various gut regions. The remarkable and specific location of enzymatic activities and nutrient storage are in agreement with the high capacity of O. dioica to process a great quantity of food very rapidly and efficiently.

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