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Open AccessArticle

The Mucus of Actinia equina (Anthozoa, Cnidaria): An Unexplored Resource for Potential Applicative Purposes

Institute for Marine Coastal Environment (Unit of Taranto), National Research Council (IAMC-CNR) Via Roma 3, 74100 Taranto, Italy
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Technologies (DiSTeBA), Università del Salento, Via Prov.le Lecce-Monteroni, 73100 Lecce, Italy
Lachifarma s.r.l., S.S.16 Zona Industriale, Zollino (Le) 73010, Italy
Department of Biological, Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technologies (STEBICEF), Università di Palermo, Via Archirafi, 18, 90123 Palermo, Italy
National Interuniversity Consortium for Marine Sciences (CoNISMa), Local Research Unit Lecce, Lecce 73100, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paola Laurienzo
Mar. Drugs 2015, 13(8), 5276-5296;
Received: 16 June 2015 / Revised: 27 July 2015 / Accepted: 6 August 2015 / Published: 19 August 2015
(This article belongs to the Collection Marine Polysaccharides)
PDF [1074 KB, uploaded 19 August 2015]


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. View Full-Text
Keywords: mucus; Actinia equina; antibacterial activity; hemolytic activity; cytotoxicity; tumor cell line K562 mucus; Actinia equina; antibacterial activity; hemolytic activity; cytotoxicity; tumor cell line K562

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Stabili, L.; Schirosi, R.; Parisi, M.G.; Piraino, S.; Cammarata, M. The Mucus of Actinia equina (Anthozoa, Cnidaria): An Unexplored Resource for Potential Applicative Purposes. Mar. Drugs 2015, 13, 5276-5296.

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