Group 1 LEA proteins contribute to the desiccation and freeze tolerance of Artemia franciscana embryos during diapause
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Water loss either by desiccation or freezing causes multiple forms of cellular damage. The encysted embryos (cysts) of the crustacean Artemia franciscana have several molecular mechanisms to enable anhydrobiosis—life without water—during diapause. To better understand how cysts survive reduced hydration, group 1 late embryogenesis abundant (LEA) proteins, hydrophilic unstructured proteins that accumulate in the stress-tolerant cysts of A. franciscana, were knocked down using RNA interference (RNAi). Embryos lacking group 1 LEA proteins showed significantly lower survival than control embryos after desiccation and freezing, or freezing alone, demonstrating a role for group 1 LEA proteins in A. franciscana tolerance of low water conditions. In contrast, regardless of group 1 LEA protein presence, cysts responded similarly to hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) exposure, indicating little to no function for these proteins in diapause termination. This is the first in vivo study of group 1 LEA proteins in an animal and it contributes to the fundamental understanding of these proteins. Knowing how LEA proteins protect A. franciscana cysts from desiccation and freezing may have applied significance in aquaculture, where Artemia is an important feed source, and in the cryopreservation of cells for therapeutic applications.
KeywordsLate embryogenesis abundant (LEA) proteins Intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) Desiccation tolerance Freeze tolerance Brine shrimp RNA interference (RNAi)
This work was supported by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery Grant (RGPIN/7661-2011) to THM, and an NSERC Julie Payette Scholarship and Killam Pre-doctoral Scholarship awarded to JT.
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