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Late embryogenesis abundant (LEA) proteins are highly hydrophilic, low complexity proteins whose expression has been correlated with desiccation tolerance in anhydrobiotic organisms. Here, we report the identification of three new mitochondrial LEA proteins in anhydrobiotic embryos of Artemia franciscana, AfrLEA3m-47, AfrLEA3m-43, and AfrLEA3m-29. These new isoforms are recognized by antibody raised against recombinant AfrLEA3m, the original mitochondrial-targeted LEA protein previously reported from these embryos; mass spectrometry confirms all four proteins share sequence similarity. The corresponding messenger RNA (mRNA) species for the four proteins are readily amplified from total complementary DNA (cDNA) prepared from embryos. cDNA sequences of the four mRNAs are quite similar, but each has a stretch of sequence that is absent in at least one of the others, plus multiple single base pair differences. We conclude that all four mitochondrial LEA proteins are products of independent genes. Each possesses a mitochondrial targeting sequence, and indeed Western blots performed on extracts of isolated mitochondria clearly detect all four isoforms. Based on mass spectrometry and sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis migration, the cytoplasmic-localized AfrLEA2 exists primarily as a homodimer in A. franciscana. Quantification of protein expression for AfrLEA2, AfrLEA3m, AfrLEA3m-43, and AfrLEA3m-29 as a function of development shows that cellular concentrations are highest in diapause embryos and decrease during development to low levels in desiccation-intolerant nauplius larvae. When adjustment is made for mitochondria matrix volume, the effective concentrations of cytoplasmic versus mitochondrial group 3 LEA proteins are similar in vivo, and the values provide guidance for the design of in vitro functional studies with these proteins. © 2013 Cell Stress Society International.

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Cell Stress and Chaperones

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