Proteomic analysis of the mucus of the photosynthetic sea slug Elysia crispata

Journal of Proteomics

Diana Lopes, Susana S. Aveiro, Sónia Cruz, Paulo Cartaxana, Pedro Domingues

Elysia crispata is a tropical sea slug that can retain intracellular functional chloroplasts from its algae prey, a mechanism termed kleptoplasty. This sea slug, like other gastropods, secretes mucus, a viscous secretion with multiple functions, including lubrication, protection, and locomotion. This study presents the first comprehensive analysis of the mucus proteome of the sea slug E. crispata using gel electrophoresis and HPLC-MS/MS. We identified 306 proteins in the mucus secretions of this animal, despite the limited entries for E. crispata in the Uniprot database. The functional annotation of the mucus proteome using Gene Ontology identified proteins involved in different functions such as hydrolase activity (molecular function), carbohydrate-derived metabolic processes (biological processes) and cytoskeletal organization (cell component). Moreover, a high proportion of proteins with enzymatic activity in the mucus of E. crispata suggests potential biotechnological applications including antimicrobial and antitumor activities. Putative antimicrobial properties are reinforced by the high abundance of hydrolases. This study also identified proteins common in mucus samples from various species, supporting a common mechanism of mucus in protecting cells and tissues while facilitating animal movement.

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