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<jats:p> Woodlice efficiently sequester copper (Cu) in ‘cuprosomes' within hepatopancreatic ‘S' cells. Binuclear ‘B’ cells in the hepatopancreas form iron (Fe) deposits; these cells apparently undergo an apocrine secretory diurnal cycle linked to nocturnal feeding. Synchrotron-based µ-focus X-ray spectroscopy undertaken on thin sections was used to characterize the ligands binding Cu and Fe in S and B cells of <jats:italic>Oniscus asellus</jats:italic> (Isopoda). Main findings were: (i) morphometry confirmed a diurnal B-cell apocrine cycle; (ii) X-ray fluorescence (XRF) mapping indicated that Cu was co-distributed with sulfur (mainly in S cells), and Fe was co-distributed with phosphate (mainly in B cells); (iii) XRF mapping revealed an intimate morphological relationship between the basal regions of adjacent S and B cells; (iv) molecular modelling and Fourier transform analyses indicated that Cu in the reduced Cu <jats:sup>+</jats:sup> state is mainly coordinated to thiol-rich ligands (Cu–S bond length 2.3 Å) in both cell types, while Fe in the oxidized Fe <jats:sup>3+</jats:sup> state is predominantly oxygen coordinated (estimated Fe–O bond length of approx. 2 Å), with an outer shell of Fe scatterers at approximately 3.05 Å; and (v) no significant differences occur in Cu or Fe speciation at key nodes in the apocrine cycle. Findings imply that S and B cells form integrated unit-pairs; a functional role for secretions from these cellular units in the digestion of recalcitrant dietary components is hypothesized. </jats:p>

Original publication




Journal article


Open Biology


The Royal Society

Publication Date





150270 - 150270