Putative mechanistic hypotheses for the interference of Nikkomycin Z with mollusc shell formation. Schematic representation of possible modes of action of NikkomycinZ that are consistent with the observed effects on shell mineralization. In mollusc mantle cells, NikkomycinZ unequivocally inhibits chitin synthesis, whereas the extent of inhibition of glycosyltransferases involved in posttranslational protein modification is currently unknown. The proper glycosylation of secreted proteins is subject to cellular control mechanisms. However, biomineralization is an extremely fine-tuned process that is highly sensitive to the glycosylation pattern of the proteins involved in crystal nucleation and growth. Thus the NikkomycinZ induced shell malformations must not purely be associated with chitin synthesis inhibition. A putative mechanical feedback loop mediated by the myosin coupling of the chitin synthase with cytoskeletal signal transduction could explain the complexity of observed effects induced by NikkomycinZ, such as differences in intensity and quality of effects (survival and malformation rates, mineral texture, shell solubility etc.) observed in larvae of various age.