Late embryogenesis abundant (LEA) proteins are intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) commonly found in anhydrobiotic organisms and are frequently correlated with desiccation tolerance. Herein we report new findings on AfrLEA6, a novel Group 6 LEA protein from embryos of Artemia franciscana. Assessment of secondary structure in aqueous and dried states with circular dichroism (CD) reveals 89% random coil in the aqueous state, thus supporting classification of AfrLEA6 as an IDP. Removal of water from the protein by drying or exposure to trifluoroethanol (a chemical de-solvating agent) promotes a large gain in secondary structure of AfrLEA6, predominated by α-helix and exhibiting minimal β-sheet structure. We evaluated the impact of physiological concentrations (up to 400 mM) of the disaccharide trehalose on the folding of LEA proteins in solution. CD spectra for AfrLEA2, AfrLEA3m, and AfrLEA6 are unaffected by this organic solute noted for its ability to drive protein folding. AfrLEA6 exhibits its highest concentration in vivo during embryonic diapause, drops acutely at diapause termination, and then declines during development to undetectable values at the larval stage. Maximum cellular titer of AfrLEA6 was 10-fold lower than for AfrLEA2 or AfrLEA3, both Group 3 LEA proteins. Acute termination of diapause with H2O2 (a far more effective terminator than desiccation in this Great Salt Lake, Utah population), fostered a rapid 38% decrease in AfrLEA6 content of embryos. While the ultimate mechanism of diapause termination is unknown, disruption of key macromolecules could initiate physiological signaling events necessary for resumption of development and metabolism.
LeBlanc, B.M., Le, M.T., Janis, B. et al. "Structural properties and cellular expression of AfrLEA6, a group 6 late embryogenesis abundant protein from embryos of Artemia franciscana." 2019. Cell Stress and Chaperones 24(5): 979–990.