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Salinity-mediated carbonic anhydrase induction in the gills of the euryhaline green crab, Carcinus maenas.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Auburn University, 101 Life Science Building, Auburn, AL 36849, USA.


The euryhaline green crab, Carcinus maenas, is a relatively strong osmotic and ionic regulator, being able to maintain its hemolymph osmolality as much as 300 mOsm higher than that in the medium when the crab is acclimated to low salinity. It makes the transition from osmoconformity to osmoregulation at a critical salinity of 26 ppt, and new acclimated concentrations of hemolymph osmotic and ionic constituents are reached within 12 h after transfer to low salinity. One of the central features of this transition is an 8-fold induction of the enzyme carbonic anhydrase (CA) in the gills. This induction occurs primarily in the cytoplasmic pool of CA in the posterior, ion-transporting gills, although the membrane-associated fraction of CA also shows some induction in response to low salinity. Inhibition of branchial CA activity with acetazolamide (Az) has no effect in crabs acclimated to 32 ppt but causes a depression in hemolymph osmotic and ionic concentrations in crabs acclimated to 10 ppt. The salinity-sensitive nature of the cytoplasmic CA pool and the sensitivity of hemolymph osmotic/ionic regulation to Az confirm the enzyme's role in ion transport and regulation in this species. CA induction is a result of gene activation, as evidenced by an increase in CA mRNA at 24 h after transfer to low salinity and an increase in protein-specific CA activity immediately following at 48 h post-transfer. CA gene expression appears to be under inhibitory control by an as-yet unidentified repressor substance found in the major endocrine complex of the crab, the eyestalk.

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