The distribution of some hydrolytic enzymes in the cells of the digestive gland of certain lamellibranchs and gastropods


  • *Medical Research Council, Clinical and Population Cytogenics Research Unit, Western General Hospital, Crewe Road, Edinburgh, 4.


Five hydrolytic enzymes (acid phosphatase, aryl sulphatase, β-glucuronidase, N-acetyl-β-glucosaminidase, and non-specific esterase) have been studied histochemically in the cells of the digestive gland of Mytilus edulis, Helix aspersa, and certain other lamellibranchs and gastropods. All the enzymes studied have basically similar distributions.

In the digestive cells, the enzymes occur in cytoplasmic granules which are believed to be primary lysosomes; in vacuoles which contain phagocytosed food material; and in vacuoles containing lipofuscin granules, which are the residues of digestive activity.

In the basiphil cells of M. edulis, most of the enzymes are localized in a few cytoplasmic granules; non-specific esterase, however, is found throughout the cytoplasm. In the calcium cells of H. aspersa and the other pulmonate gastropods studied, the enzymes are either in cytoplasmic granules, or distributed diffusely throughout the cytoplasm. Acid phosphatase is also found in the calcium spherules, especially in H. aspersa.

In the excretory cells of H. aspersa and the other pulmonates studied, the enzymes are found in granules in the cytoplasm, and in the lipofuscin granules which lie in the vacuoles of these cells.