Ovarian low density lipoproteins (LDL) such as vitellogenin (Vg) are the precursors of the major yolk protein vitellin, and constitute the major source of nutrients serving the developing embryo. The objective of this study was to gain a better understanding of crustacean egg development by focusing on the process of Vg internalization by its receptor (ovarian LDLR). First, an ovarian LDLR cDNA sequence in Marsupenaeus japonicus was determined. Ovarian LDLR mRNA expression was then examined, and was seen to be specific to the ovary, exhibiting highest levels during the previtellogenic stage. This pattern of ovarian LDLR expression is thought to signify preparation for yolk protein incorporation into the oocyte. Using immunoblotting techniques, an ovarian LDLR band was detected whose size was similar to that estimated from the deduced amino acid sequence. The ovarian LDLR protein was expressed only at the onset of vitellogenesis, and histological studies supported these observations. This is the first occasion that the ovarian LDLR and its expression dynamics during vitellogenesis have been fully characterized in a crustacean.
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