Diseases of aquatic organisms

Modulation of Hsp60 in response to coral brown band disease.

PMID 26119296


Brown band disease (BrB), a virulent coral disease characterized by a dense concentration of ciliates ingesting coral tissue, is responsible for ongoing coral losses on Indo-Pacific reefs. Although several efforts have been made to identify the microbial communities associated with BrB and study the disease ecology, less attention has been given to the effect of ciliate presence on coral physiology. Levels of the mitochondrial heat shock protein 60-kDa (Hsp60, a biomarker indicative of cellular stress) were analyzed in apparently healthy coral polyps located at different distances along the advancing front of infection in Acropora muricata colonies affected by BrB in a Maldivian reef. Different Hsp60 levels were found in different parts of the same colony. Starting from a basal protein level in the healthy control colonies, a down-regulation of Hsp60 expression was detected near the ciliate band, indicating that the Hsp60 defense activity was probably already compromised due to the rapid progression rate of the BrB ciliate on the diseased branches and/or to the etiology of the disease. Moving away from the band, the Hsp60 levels gradually returned to a state comparable to that found in the control, showing that cellular damage was confined to areas near the infection. In conclusion, we propose the analysis of Hsp60 modulation as a useful tool for examining physiological variations that are not detected at the morphological level in corals subjected to epizootic diseases, while providing new insights into the immune response of corals.