Stressed-out lobsters: crustacean hyperglycemic hormone and stress proteins

Integr Comp Biol. 2005 Jan;45(1):43-50. doi: 10.1093/icb/45.1.43.


Organisms in natural habitats must frequently respond to changes in their environments through various physiological mechanisms. My laboratory has developed several methods for the quantification of stress in crustaceans. An ELISA was developed for the crustacean hyperglycemic hormone (CHH) from the American lobster (Homarus americanus). It is sensitive to as little as 0.2 fmol of peptide. Increases in hemolymph CHH were observed under conditions of acute hypoxia, elevated temperature, and altered salinity. In addition, elevated CHH concentrations were observed in Norway lobsters (Nephrops norvegicus) that were parasitized with the dinoflagellate Hematodinium sp.Stress proteins, also known as heat-shock proteins (HSPs), comprise a highly conserved class of proteins that display elevated transcription during periods of stress. Using homologous molecular probes, my collaborators and I have examined the influence of heat-shock, osmotic stress, and the molt cycle upon HSP expression at the protein and mRNA levels. We observed a significant elevation in HSP mRNA expression after 1 hr of heat-shock or after 0.5 hr of osmotic stress. When comparing claw and abdominal muscles during molting, we observed a tissue-specific HSP response. Quantification of these different stress responses may serve as early indicators of the degradation of environmental health.