Biochemical Warfare on the Reef: The Role of Glutathione Transferases in Consumer Tolerance of Dietary Prostaglandins
Whalen, Kristen E.
Lane, Amy L.
Hahn, Mark E.
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Background: Despite the profound variation among marine consumers in tolerance for allelochemically-rich foods, few studies have examined the biochemical adaptations underlying diet choice. Here we examine the role of glutathione Stransferases (GSTs) in the detoxification of dietary allelochemicals in the digestive gland of the predatory gastropod Cyphoma gibbosum, a generalist consumer of gorgonian corals. Controlled laboratory feeding experiments were used to investigate the influence of gorgonian diet on Cyphoma GST activity and isoform expression. Gorgonian extracts and semipurified fractions were also screened to identify inhibitors and possible substrates of Cyphoma GSTs. In addition, we investigated the inhibitory properties of prostaglandins (PGs) structurally similar to antipredatory PGs found in high concentrations in the Caribbean gorgonian Plexaura homomalla. Principal Findings: Cyphoma GST subunit composition was invariant and activity was constitutively high regardless of gorgonian diet. Bioassay-guided fractionation of gorgonian extracts revealed that moderately hydrophobic fractions from all eight gorgonian species examined contained putative GST substrates/inhibitors. LC-MS and NMR spectral analysis of the most inhibitory fraction from P. homomalla subsequently identified prostaglandin A2 (PGA2) as the dominant component. A similar screening of commercially available prostaglandins in series A, E, and F revealed that those prostaglandins most abundant in gorgonian tissues (e.g., PGA2) were also the most potent inhibitors. In vivo estimates of PGA2 concentration in digestive gland tissues calculated from snail grazing rates revealed that Cyphoma GSTs would be saturated with respect to PGA2 and operating at or near physiological capacity. Significance: The high, constitutive activity of Cyphoma GSTs is likely necessitated by the ubiquitous presence of GST substrates and/or inhibitors in this consumer’s gorgonian diet. This generalist’s GSTsmay operate as ‘all-purpose’ detoxification enzymes, capable of conjugating or sequestering a broad range of lipophilic gorgonian compounds, thereby allowing this predator to exploit a range of chemically-defended prey, resulting in a competitive dietary advantage for this species.