The esophagus and intestine form the longest regions of the digestive tract in the giant keyhole limpet and are lined by epithelial cells sharing a common morphology and releasing materials into the gut lumen by apocrine secretion. The purpose of this study was to determine if these morphologically similar regions release similar digestive enzymes and compare their contributions to digestive enzymes released from other regions of the gut. Principal component analysis of enzymes detected by the API ZYM system for 19 enzymes plus EnzChek assays for protease, α-amylase, lipase, cellulase, and lysozyme identify four distinct regions of the gut: 1) crystalline style and style sac, 2) digestive gland, 3) salivary glands, and 4) esophagus and intestine. Heterogeneity in enzymatic activity was observed in regions of the gut with similar cell morphology (middle and posterior esophagus and intestine) as well as regions with different cell morphology (salivary glands, digestive gland and crystalline style). Enzyme activity in each of these regions is compared to other gastropods, in particular the abalone. Although much of the length of the digestive tract is lined by a morphologically similar epithelium, different regions of the alimentary tract produce a different suite of enzymes which may contribute to the digestive process. These data will help enhance our limited understanding of the digestive physiology of Megathura crenulata and lead to improvement of its culture for clinical research. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.
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