World's Poultry Science Journal

Research Article

Role of extracellular matrix molecules in shell formation and structure

J. L. Ariasa1 and M. S. Fernandeza1

a1 Faculty of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Universidad de Chile and Center for Advanced Interdisciplinary Research in Materials (CIMAT), Santiago, Chile


Avian eggshells are natural composite bioceramics containing organic and inorganic phases. The occurrence and role of particular collagens and proteoglycans in the eggshell and their pattern of secretion by the oviduct is discussed. While type X collagen, the main constituent of the shell membranes, functions to inhibit their mineralisation, mammillan, a mammillary keratan sulphate proteoglycan, is involved in nucleation of the first calcite crystals of the shell and ovoglycan, a unique dermatan sulphate proteoglycan, is involved in the growth of the crystalline palisade. Eggshell biomineralisation is effected by specialised oviduct cell populations in a defined topographically and temporally regulated process.