Proteasomal activities in the claw muscle tissue of European lobster, Homarus gammarus, during larval development

Original Paper


Decapod crustaceans grow discontinuously and gain size through complex molt processes. The molt comprises the loss of the old cuticle and, moreover, substantial reduction and re-organization of muscles and connective tissues. In adult lobsters, the muscle tissue of the massive claws undergoes significant atrophy of 40–75% before ecdysis. The degradation of this tissue is facilitated by calcium-dependent proteases and by the proteasome, an intra-cellular proteolytic multi-enzyme complex. In contrast to the adults, the involvement of the proteasome during the larval development is yet not validated. Therefore, we developed micro-methods to measure the 20S and the 26S proteasomal activities within mg- and sub-mg-quantities of the larval claw tissue of the European lobster, Homarus gammarus. Within the three larval stages (Z1–3) we distinguished between sub-stages of freshly molted/hatched (post-molt), inter-molt, and ready to molt (pre-molt) larvae. Juveniles were analyzed in the post-molt and in the inter-molt stage. The trypsin-like, the chymotrypsin-like, and the peptidyl-glutamyl peptide hydrolase activity (PGPH) of the 20S proteasome increased distinctly from freshly hatched larvae to pre-molt Z1. During the Z2 stage, the activities were highest in the post-molt animals, decreased in the inter-molt animals and increased again in the pre-molt animals. A similar but less distinct trend was evident in the Z3 stages. In the juveniles, the proteasomal activities decreased toward the lowest values. A similar pattern was present for the chymotrypsin-like activity of the 26S proteasome. The results show that the proteasome plays a significant role during the larval development of lobsters. This is not only reflected by the elevated activities, but also by the continuous change of the trypsin/chymotrypsin-ratio which may indicate a shift in the subunit composition of the proteasome and, thus, a biochemical adjustment to better cope with elevated protein turnover rates during larval development.


Lobster larvae Molt Claws Muscle atrophy 20S and 26S proteasome 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Functional EcologyBremerhavenGermany
  2. 2.Phillipps-Universität, FB BiologieMarburgGermany

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