Quantitative proteomics of heavy metal stress responses in Sydney rock oysters


Correspondence: Professor Paul A. Haynes, Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Sciences, Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW 2109, Australia

E-mail: paul.haynes@mq.edu.au

Fax: +61-2-9850 6200


Currently, there are few predictive biomarkers in key biomonitoring species, such as oysters, that can detect heavy metal pollution in coastal waterways. Several attributes make oysters superior to other organisms for positive biomonitoring of heavy metal pollution. In particular, they are filter feeders with a high capacity for bioaccumulation. In this study, we used two proteomics approaches, namely label-free shotgun proteomics based on SDS-PAGE gel separation and gas phase fractionation, to investigate the heavy metal stress responses of Sydney rock oysters. Protein samples were prepared from haemolymph of oysters exposed to 100 μg/L of PbCl2, CuCl2, or ZnCl2 for 4 days in closed aquaria. Peptides were identified using a Bivalvia protein sequence database, due to the unavailability of a complete oyster genome sequence. Statistical analysis revealed 56 potential biomarker proteins, as well as several protein biosynthetic pathways to be greatly impacted by metal stress. These have the potential to be incorporated into bioassays for prevention and monitoring of heavy metal pollution in Australian oyster beds. The study confirms that proteomic analysis of biomonitoring species is a promising approach for assessing the effects of environmental pollution, and our experiments have provided insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying oyster stress responses.