The mucus produced by many marine organisms is a complex mixture of proteins and polysaccharides forming a weak watery gel. It is essential for vital processes including locomotion, navigation, structural support, heterotrophic feeding and defence against a multitude of environmental stresses, predators, parasites, and pathogens. In the present study we focused on mucus produced by a benthic cnidarian, the sea anemone Actinia equina
(Linnaeus, 1758) for preventing burial by excess sedimentation and for protection. We investigated some of the physico-chemical properties of this matrix such as viscosity, osmolarity, electrical conductivity, protein, carbohydrate, and total lipid contents. Some biological activities such as hemolytic, cytotoxic, and antibacterial lysozyme-like activities were also studied. The A. equina
mucus is mainly composed by water (96.2% ± 0.3%), whereas its dry weight is made of 24.2% ± 1.3% proteins and 7.8% ± 0.2% carbohydrates, with the smallest and largest components referable to lipids (0.9%) and inorganic matter (67.1%). The A. equina
mucus matrix exhibited hemolytic activity on rabbit erythrocytes, cytotoxic activity against the tumor cell line K562 (human erythromyeloblastoid leukemia) and antibacterial lysozyme-like activity. The findings from this study improve the available information on the mucus composition in invertebrates and have implications for future investigations related to exploitation of A. equina
and other sea anemones’
mucus as a source of bioactive compounds of high pharmaceutical and biotechnological interest.
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