, Volume 69, Issue 1, pp 37-43

Sodium regulation in the shore crab Carcinus maenas as related to ambient salinity

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The activity of Na−K-ATPase was measured in crude homogenates prepared from various organs (leg muscle, pincer muscle, heart, testes, digestive gland, hypodermis, gills 1–9) of shore crabs, Carcinus maenas L., acclimated to salinities ranging between 10 and 50‰ S (in steps of 10‰ S). In all salinities tested, Na−K-ATPase activity was highest in posterior gills 7–9 (10–12 μmol Pi mg protein-1 h-1), followed by anterior gills 1–6 (ca. 2.5 μmol Pi mg protein-1 h-1) and the other organs (in most cases far below 2μmol Pi mg protein-1 h-1). In gills only, Na−K-ATPase activity was salinity-dependent, with the highest values in the lowest salinities and vice versa. In gills 7–9, Na−K-ATPase activity was increased more than threefold following a reduction in salinity from 50 to 10‰ S. Na−K-ATPase activity, expressed as percentage of total ATPase activity, amounted to 60–80% in gills, about 60% in hypodermis and 20–40% in the other organs. Ouabain, a specific inhibitor of Na−K-ATPase activity, reduced serum osmolalities in crabs kept at 9–10‰ S only when injected into the hemolymph (1 and 5 · 10-5 M), but had no effect when dissolved in ambient water (10-4 M). The results obtained underline that crustacean gills are the main organs for ionic regulation, and confirm the hypothesis of the central role of the Na−K-ATPase in active Na uptake as the basic mechanism of hyperregulation in dilute media. Reduction of serum osmolalities following injection of ouabain into the hemolymph confirms previous reports on localization of the sodium pump in the basolateral parts of epithelial cells.

Communicated by O. Kinne, Hamburg