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Evidence of Chitin in the Ampullae of Lorenzini of Chondrichthyan Fishes

By Molly Phillips, W. Joyce Tang, Matthew Robinson, Daniel Ocampo Daza, Khan Hassan, Valerie Leppert, Linda S Hirst, Chris T Amemiya

Posted 02 Jul 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/687301 (published DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2020.08.014)

Chitin is synthesized by a variety of organisms using enzymes called chitin synthases and was recently discovered in a number of aquatic vertebrates. In our ongoing investigations into the presence of vertebrate chitin, we unexpectedly found evidence of the polysaccharide within the electrosensory organs, known as Ampullae of Lorenzini, of diverse chondrichthyan fishes. Experiments with histochemical reagents, chemical analyses, and enzymatic digestions suggested that chitin is a component of the hydrogel filling the structures. Further, in situ hybridization with a sequence from the little skate ( Leucoraja erinacea ) revealed that chitin synthase expression is localized to cells inside the organs. Collectively, these findings suggest that chondrichthyan fishes endogenously synthesize chitin and beg further investigation into the function of chitin in the electrosensory system. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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