Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (MS)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Greg Ahearn

Second Advisor

Dr. Jim Gelsleichter

Third Advisor

Dr. Andrew Evans

Department Chair

Dr. Cliff Ross

College Dean

Dr. Barbara A. Hetrick


Many elasmobranchs are considered top predators with worldwide distribution, and in general these fish play an important role in the transfer of energy from the lower to the upper trophic levels within the marine ecosystem. Despite this, little research has been done regarding the rates of prey ingestion, digestion, and the processes of energy and nutrient absorption. Specifically understudied is enzymatic digestion within the intestinal brush border, which functions to break down macromolecules into smaller subunits for luminal absorption across the gastrointestinal epithelium. Given their carnivorous diet, the present study sought to expand knowledge on nutrient intake in elasmobranchs by focusing on the uptake of products of protein metabolism. To accomplish this, sequence encoding Peptide Transporter 1 (PepT1), a protein found within the brush border membrane (BBM) of higher vertebrates that is responsible for the translocation and absorption of small peptides released during digestion by luminal and membrane-bound proteases, was molecularly identified in the bonnethead shark (Sphyrna tiburo) using degenerate primers based on conserved portions of known PEPT1 sequences from other vertebrates. Sequence encoding Peptide Transporter 2 (PepT2) was also isolated from the S. tiburo scroll valve intestine using the same methodology. PepT1 was then localized using immunocytochemistry with rabbit polyclonal anti-rat PEPT1 in the esophagus, stomach, duodenum, scroll valve intestine, rectum, and pancreas. Vesicle studies were used to identify the apparent affinity of the transporter, and to quantify the rate of uptake by its H+-dependent cotransporter properties, using 3H-glycylsarcosine as a model dipeptide. The results of this study provide insight into the rate and properties of food passage within S. tiburo, and can lead to future work on topics such as physiological regulation of protein metabolism and absorption and how it may vary in elasmobranchs that exhibit different feeding strategies.