Author(s): Watson GM, Mariscal RN
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Abstract The mature nematocyst lies just beneath the cnidodyte plasma membrane. A microtubule array surrounds the nematocyst capsule just beneath the capsule tip. We propose that the array helps to hold the capsule at the cnidocyte cell surface until discharge. The undischarged capsule tip is sealed by three apical flaps, joined together along complex radial seams. The seams are filled with subunits that appear to bind the flaps together. Upon discharge, the flaps separate along the radial seams to permit thread eversion. The everted thread is lined on both sides by subunits that are stained by antimonate, indicating that they bind calcium. We suggest that, together, the subunits hold the uneverted thread in its folded and coiled configuration. Thread eversion would follow subunit uncoupling. The capsule and thread interiors of partially discharged nematocysts are stained by antimonate. In contrast, the capsule and thread interiors of fully discharged nematocysts are not stained by antimonate. Thus, nematocyst calcium might be injected into the target tissue where it is presumed to act in conjunction with nematocyst venom to promote cell death.
This article was published in Tissue Cell
and referenced in Biological Systems: Open Access