Spatial profiles of hsp70 proteins in Asian clam (Potamocorbula amurensis) in northern San Francisco Bay may be linked to natural rather than anthropogenic stressors.
Multi-year investigations in northern San Francisco Bay by United States Geological Survey have linked reduced condition indices in populations of Asian clam (Potamocorbula amurensis) with elevated cadmium tissue concentrations. Our study seeks to determine whether levels of hsp70 proteins in P. amurensis can be correlated with these findings, and/or are related to histopathologic alterations and concentrations of metallothionein-like proteins. Here we present our results on stress proteins in clams collected monthly from four field stations between July 1996 and January 1998. In addition, animals were exposed in the laboratory to a range of salinities. Stress proteins were analyzed by Western blotting using monoclonal antibodies. Hsp70 protein levels in field-collected clams were significantly higher at the seaward (high salinity/low cadmium) stations (12.5, 8.1) than at the landward (low salinity/high cadmium) stations (6.1, 4.1). Laboratory studies showed that clams exposed to 0.1 ppt salinity had markedly lower hsp70 levels than clams exposed to higher salinities. In view of our previous laboratory studies showing that cadmium induces hsp70 in P. amurensis, our present results indicate that reduced hsp70 protein levels in field-collected clams may be linked to salinity effects rather than cadmium tissue concentrations.
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