Mechanisms that govern anhydrobiosis involve the accumulation of highly hydrophilic macromolecules, such as late embryogenesis abundant (LEA) proteins. Group 1 LEA proteins comprised of 181 (AfLEA1.1) and 197 (AfLEA1.3) amino acids were cloned from embryos of Artemia franciscana and expressed in Drosophila melanogaster cells (Kc167). Confocal microscopy revealed a construct composed of green fluorescence protein (GFP) and AfLEA1.3 accumulates in the mitochondria (AfLEA1.3-GFP), while AfLEA1.1-GFP was found in the cytoplasm. In the presence of mixed substrates, oxygen consumption was statistically identical for permeabilized Kc167 control and Kc167-AfLEA1.3 cells. Acute titrations of permeabilized cells with NaCl up to 500 mM led to successive drops in oxygen flux, which were significantly ameliorated by 18% in Kc167-AfLEA1.3 cells compared to Kc167 controls. Mitochondria were isolated from both cell types and resuspended in a sucrose-based buffer solution. The purified mitochondria from Kc167 control cells showed significantly larger reductions in respiratory capacities after one freeze-thaw cycle (-80 °C) compared to mitochondria isolated from Kc167-AfLEA1.3 cells. When cultured in the presence of a non-permeant osmolyte (50 - 200 mM sucrose) cells expressing AfLEA1.3 showed significantly improved viability (10 – 15%) during this hyperosmotic challenge as compared to Kc167 controls. Furthermore, Kc167-AfLEA1.3 cells survived desiccation by convective air drying in presence of 200 mM extracellular trehalose to lower final moisture contents than did control Kc167 cells (0.36 g H2O/g DW vs.1.02 g H2O/g DW). Thus, AfLEA1.3 exerts a protective influence on mitochondrial function and increases viability of Kc167 cells during water stress.
Marunde, Matthew R.; Samarajeewa, Dilini A.; Anderson, John; Li, Shumin; Hand, Steven C.; and Menze, Michael A., "Improved Tolerance to Salt and Water Stress in Drosophila melanogaster Cells Conferred by Late Embryogenesis Abundant Protein" (2013). Faculty Research & Creative Activity. Paper 119.