• calpain system;
  • fish;
  • high pressure;
  • postmortem denaturation

ABSTRACT:  Calpains (calcium-activated neutral proteases) of sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax L.) muscle may participate in the degradation of muscle tissue during postmortem storage. These enzymes are regulated by calpastatin, their endogenous specific inhibitor. The objective of this study was to evaluate the changes encountered by the calpain system during the postmortem storage of fish muscle after high-pressure treatment. From 100 MPa, high-pressure treatment of purified calpains results in a loss of their activity as well as in the dissociation of the heterodimeric form. In muscle, the high-pressure processing decreases the initial activity of calpain. This loss in activity may be due to an inactivation by a change of structure. Initial calpastatin activity is not modified by the high-pressure treatment, but it decreases during the storage from the beginning for a treatment at 300 MPa after which calpastatin is stable during 2 d. Therefore, this study also suggests that high-pressure treatment could be a useful way to improve fish flesh quality.