PloS one

Identification and localization of proteins associated with biomineralization in the iron deposition vesicles of honeybees (Apis mellifera).

PMID 21541330


Honeybees (Apis mellifera) form superparamagnetic magnetite to act as a magnetoreceptor for magnetoreception. Biomineralization of superparamagnetic magnetite occurs in the iron deposition vesicles of trophocytes. Even though magnetite has been demonstrated, the mechanism of magnetite biomineralization is unknown. In this study, proteins in the iron granules and iron deposition vesicles of trophocytes were purified and identified by mass spectrometry. Antibodies against such proteins were produced. The major proteins include actin, myosin, ferritin 2, and ATP synthase. Immunolabeling and co-immunoprecipitation studies suggest that iron is stored in ferritin 2 for the purpose of forming 7.5-nm diameter iron particles and that actin-myosin-ferritin 2 may serve as a transporter system. This system, along with calcium and ATP, conveys the iron particles (ferritin) to the center of iron deposition vesicles for iron granules formation. These proteins and reactants are included in iron deposition vesicles during the formation of iron deposition vesicles from the fusion of smooth endoplasmic reticulum. A hypothetical model for magnetite biomineralization in iron deposition vesicles is proposed for honeybees.