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J Exp Zool A Ecol Integr Physiol. 2018 May 28. doi: 10.1002/jez.2180. [Epub ahead of print]

A potential antiapoptotic regulation: The interaction of heat shock protein 70 and apoptosis-inducing factor mitochondrial 1 during heat stress and aestivation in sea cucumber.

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Key Laboratory of Mariculture, Ministry of Education, Ocean University of China, Qingdao, PR China.
Institute of Biochemistry, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, Canada.
Marine Science and Technology College, Zhejiang Ocean University, Zhoushan, PR China.


The sea cucumber (Apostichopus japonicus) has become a good model organism for studying environmentally induced aestivation in marine invertebrates. A characteristic feature of aestivation in this species is the degeneration of the intestine. In the current study, we hypothesized that energy conservation and cytoprotective strategies need to be coordinated in the intestine to ensure long-term survival during aestivation, and there was potential relationship between heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) and apoptosis-inducing factor mitochondrial 1 (AIFM1) during extreme environmental stress. AIFM1 is a bifunctional flavoprotein that is involved in the caspase-independent activation of apoptosis. The gene and protein expression profiles of AjAIFM1 and AjHSP70 in intestinal tissue during aestivation were analyzed and results showed an inverse correlation between them, AjAIFM1 being suppressed during aestivation whereas AjHSP70 was strongly upregulated. Comparable responses were also seen when intestinal cells were isolated and analyzed in vitro for responses to heat stress at 25°C (a water temperature typical during aestivation), compared with 15°C control cells. Combined with co-immunoprecipitation studies in vivo and in vitro, our results suggested that AjHSP70 protein may have potential interaction with AjAIFM1. To determine the influence of heat stress on apoptotic rate of intestinal cells, we also assessed the DNA fragmentation by terminal deoxynucleotide transferase-mediated dUTP nick-end labeling assay, and results also supported a potential antiapoptotic response in sea cucumber during heat stress. This type of cytoprotective mechanism could be used to preserve the existing cellular components during long-term aestivation in sea cucumber.


AjAIFM1; AjHSP70; aestivation; heat stress; sea cucumber


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