Crustaceans are a diverse group, distributed in widely variable environmental conditions for which they show an equally extensive range of biochemical adaptations. Some digestive enzymes have been studied by purification/characterization approaches. However, global analysis is crucial to understand how digestive enzymes interplay. Here, we present the first proteomic analysis of the digestive fluid from a crustacean (Homarus americanus) and identify glycosidases and peptidases as the most abundant classes of hydrolytic enzymes. The digestion pathway of complex carbohydrates was predicted by comparing the lobster enzymes to similar enzymes from other crustaceans. A novel and unbiased substrate profiling approach was used to uncover the global proteolytic specificity of gastric juice and determine the contribution of cysteine and aspartic acid peptidases. These enzymes were separated by gel electrophoresis and their individual substrate specificities uncovered from the resulting gel bands. This new technique is called zymoMSP. Each cysteine peptidase cleaves a set of unique peptide bonds and the S2 pocket determines their substrate specificity. Finally, affinity chromatography was used to enrich for a digestive cathepsin D1 to compare its substrate specificity and cold-adapted enzymatic properties to mammalian enzymes. We conclude that the H. americanus digestive peptidases may have useful therapeutic applications, due to their cold-adaptation properties and ability to hydrolyze collagen.
Keywords: Cold-adapted enzyme; Homarus americanus; Peptidase; Substrate specificity.