Ultrastructure of the Epithelial Cells Associated with Tooth Biomineralization in the Chiton Acanthopleura hirtosa

Jeremy Shaw, D.J. Macey, L.R. Brooker, Edward Stockdale, Martin Saunders, Peta Clode

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The cusp epithelium is a specialized branch of the superior epithelium that surrounds the developing teeth of chitons and is responsible for delivering the elements required for the formation of biominerals within the major lateral teeth. These biominerals are deposited within specific regions of the tooth in sequence, making it possible to conduct a row by row examination of cell development in the cusp epithelium as the teeth progress from the unmineralized to the mineralized state. Cusp epithelium from the chiton Acanthopleura hirtosa was prepared using conventional chemical and microwave assisted tissue processing, for observation by light microscopy, conventional transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and energy filtered TEM. The onset of iron mineralization within the teeth, initiated at row 13, is associated with a number of dramatic changes in the ultrastructure of the apical cusp cell epithelium. Specifically, the presence of ferritin containing siderosomes, the position and number of mitochondria, and the structure of the cell microvilli are each linked to aspects of the mineralization process. These changes in tissue development are discussed in context with their influence over the physiological conditions within both the cells and extracellular compartment of the tooth at the onset of iron mineralization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-165
JournalMicroscopy and Microanalysis
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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