Can heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) serve as biomarkers in Antarctica for future ocean acidification, warming and salinity stress?

The Antarctic Peninsula is one of the fastest-warming places on Earth. Elevated sea water temperatures cause glacier and sea ice melting. When icebergs melt into the ocean, it “freshens” the saltwater around them, reducing its salinity. The oceans absorb excess anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) causing decline in ocean pH, a process known as ocean acidification. Many marine organisms are specifically affected by ocean warming, freshening and acidification. Due to the sensitivity of Antarctica to global warming, using biomarkers is the best way for scientists to predict more accurately future climate change and provide useful information or ecological risk assessments. The 70-kilodalton (kDa) heat shock protein (HSP70) chaperones have been used as biomarkers of stress in temperate and tropical environments. The induction of the HSP70 genes (Hsp70) that alter intracellular proteins in living organisms is a signal triggered by environmental temperature changes. Induction of Hsp70 has been observed both in eukaryotes and in prokaryotes as response to environmental stressors including increased and decreased temperature, salinity, pH and the combined effects of changes in temperature, acidification and salinity stress. Generally, HSP70s play critical roles in numerous complex processes of metabolism; their synthesis can usually be increased or decreased during stressful conditions. However, there is a question as to whether HSP70s may serve as excellent biomarkers in the Antarctic considering the long residence time of Antarctic organisms in a cold polar environment which appears to have greatly modified the response of heat responding transcriptional systems. This review provides insight into the vital roles of HSP70 that make them ideal candidates as biomarkers for identifying resistance and resilience in response to abiotic stressors associated with climate change, which are the effects of ocean warming, freshening and acidification in Antarctic organisms.

Yusof N. A., Masnoddin M., Charles J., Thien Y. Q., Nasib F. N., Wong C. M. V. L., Murad A. M. A., Mahadi N. M. & Bharudin I., in press. Can heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) serve as biomarkers in Antarctica for future ocean acidification, warming and salinity stress? Polar Biology. Article.

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