Sea urchins have a different life history from humans and traditional model organisms used to study the process of aging. Sea urchins grow indeterminately, reproduce throughout their life span and some species have been shown to exhibit negligible senescence with no increase in mortality rate at advanced ages. Despite these properties, different species of sea urchins are reported to have very different natural life spans providing a unique model to investigate cellular mechanisms underlying life span determination and negligible senescence. To gain insight into the biological changes that accompany aging in these animals, proteomic profiles were examined in coelomic fluid from young and old sea urchins of three species with different life spans: short-lived Lytechinus variegatus, long-lived Strongylocentrotus franciscanus and Strongylocentrotus purpuratus which has an intermediate life span. The proteomic profiles of cell-free coelomic fluid were complex with many proteins exhibiting different forms and extensive post-translational modifications. Approximately 20% of the protein spots on 2-D gels showed more than two-fold change with age in each of the species. Changes that are consistent with age in all three species may prove to be useful biomarkers for age-determination for these commercially fished marine invertebrates and also may provide clues to mechanisms of negligible senescence. Among the proteins that change with age, the ectodomain of low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 4 (LRP4) was significantly increased in the coelomic fluid of all three sea urchin species suggesting that the Wnt signaling pathway should be further investigated for its role in negligible senescence.

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