Oxygen fluctuations represent a common stressor in estuarine and intertidal environments and can compromise the mitochondrial integrity and function in marine organisms. We assessed the role of mitochondrial protection mechanisms (ATP-dependent and ATP-independent mitochondrial proteases, and antioxidants) in tolerance to intermittent hypoxia or anoxia in three species of marine bivalves: the hypoxia tolerant hard clams (Mercenaria mercenaria) and oysters (Crassostrea virginica), and a hypoxia-sensitive subtidal scallop (Argopecten irradians). In clams and oysters, mitochondrial tolerance to hypoxia (18 h at 5% O2), anoxia (18 h at 0.1% O2) and subsequent reoxygenation was associated with the ability to maintain the steady-state activity of ATP-dependent and ATP-independent mitochondrial proteases and an anticipatory upregulation of the total antioxidant capacity (TAOC) under the low oxygen conditions. No accumulation of end-products of lipid or protein peroxidation was found during intermittent hypoxia or anoxia in clams and oysters (except for an increase in protein carbonyl concentration after hypoxia-reoxygenation in oysters). In contrast, hypoxia/anoxia and reoxygenation strongly suppressed activity of the ATP-dependent mitochondrial proteases in hypoxia-sensitive scallops. This suppression was associated with accumulation of oxidatively damaged mitochondrial proteins (including carbonylated proteins and proteins conjugated with a lipid peroxidation product malondialdehyde) despite high TAOC levels in scallop mitochondria. These findings highlight a key role of mitochondrial proteases in protection against hypoxia-reoxygenation stress and adaptations to frequent oxygen fluctuations in intertidal mollusks.
- Received July 13, 2016.
- Accepted September 16, 2016.
- © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd