Glutathione transferases (GSTs) are key for xenobiotic detoxification at the molecular level across phyla. These enzymes are therefore likely to be part of the defence mechanisms used by marine organisms, such as mussels, that thrive in highly polluted environments. Taking this hypothesis into account, we used proteomics to characterize the profile of GSTs from the gills of marine mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis in order to discriminate natural mussel populations exposed to different levels of pollution. Samples were collected between Cabo Home (Spain) and Matosinhos (Portugal) covering a north-south transect of approximately 122 Km of the Atlantic Ocean along the Western Coast of the Iberian Peninsula. GSTs from mussel gills were extracted and purified by affinity chromatography with glutathione as the binding substrate to the solid medium. We studied the abundance of GST isoforms by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry and assessed total activity. Eleven putative individual GSTs from classes Mu, Pi and Sigma were identified by proteomics. Few variations were observed in total GST activity of post-mitochondrial samples between sampling sites, with animals from Matosinhos (polluted site) showing highest GST activity and Cabo Home (clean site) showing lowest. This contrasts with the increased number of differences in the individual GST isoforms. Each mussel population showed unique GST proteomic profiles. Based on the results we conclude that proteomics surpasses the conventional GST enzymatic activity method to discriminate natural mussel populations and has potential application in environmental monitoring. It is reasonable to suggest that the GST proteomic profiles observed may reflect differences in contamination levels.
Keywords: Affinity purification; Glutathione transferase; Mytilus galloprovincialis; Proteomics.
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