Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 176, Issue 8, pp 775–782 | Cite as

Identification and properties of steroid-binding proteins in nesting Chelonia mydas plasma

  • M. P. Ikonomopoulou
  • A. J. Bradley
  • J. M. Whittier
  • K. Ibrahim
Original Paper


We report for the first time the presence of a sex steroid-binding protein in the plasma of green sea turtles Chelonia mydas, which provides an insight into reproductive status. A high affinity, low capacity sex hormone steroid-binding protein was identified in nesting C. mydas and its thermal profile was established. In nesting C. mydas testosterone and oestradiol bind at 4°C with high affinity (K a = 1.49 ± 0.09 × 109 M−1; 0.17 ± 0.02 × 107 M−1) and low binding capacity (B max = 3.24 ± 0.84 × 10−5 M; 0.33 ± 0.06 × 10−4 M). The binding affinity and capacity of testosterone at 23 and 36°C, respectively were similar to those determined at 4°C. However, oestradiol showed no binding activity at 36°C. With competition studies we showed that oestradiol and oestrone do not compete for binding sites. Furthermore, in nesting C. mydas plasma no high-affinity binding was observed for adrenocortical steroids (cortisol and corticosterone) and progesterone. Our results indicate that in nesting C. mydas plasma temperature has a minimal effect on the high-affinity binding of testosterone to sex steroid-binding protein, however, the high affinity binding of oestradiol to sex steroid-binding protein is abolished at a hypothetically high (36°C) sea/ambient/body temperature. This suggests that at high core body temperatures most of the oestradiol becomes biologically available to the tissues rather than remaining bound to a high-affinity carrier.


Binding proteins Green sea turtles Chelonia mydas Sex steroids 



Binding proteins


Sex steroid-binding proteins


Steady-state polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis



This work was supported by Australian Research Council Linkage Grant, Queensland Health Scientific Services (QHSS) and Earthwatch Institute (Project: Green Turtles of Malaysia). The Animal Ethics Committee of the University of Queensland, acting in accordance with the Australian Code of Practice approved all experiments (Number ANTA/220/05/UQ-ARC/Earthwatch/URG), and the CITES numbers (Number 46805) acquired from the Malaysian Fisheries Department. We also would like to thank Dr. C. Bradshaw for discussion on this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. P. Ikonomopoulou
    • 1
  • A. J. Bradley
    • 1
  • J. M. Whittier
    • 1
    • 2
  • K. Ibrahim
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Biomedical SciencesThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.School of MedicineUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia
  3. 3.Turtle and Marine Ecosystem Centre (TUMEC)Dungan, TerengganuMalaysia

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