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Perkinsus marinus is responsible for disease and mortality of the American oyster, Crassostrea virginica. To inves-tigate the interactions between P. marinus and oyster hemocytes, protease activity was measured in plasma of oysters collected 4 hr, 24 hr, 4 days, and 2 mo after experimental infection with P. marinus. A significant increase in protease activity was observed in oyster plasma 4 hr after injection with P. marinus, followed by a sharp decrease within 24 hr. Gelatin-impregnated gel electrophoresis showed the presence of 2 major bands (60 and 112 kDa) and 3 less prevalent bands (35, 92, and 200 kDa) with metalloproteinaselike activity in the plasma of noninfected oysters. Additional bands in the 40- to 60-kDa range, corresponding to P. marinus serine proteases, were observed in oyster plasma at early time points after infection. A transient, but significant, decrease in the activity of oyster metalloproteinases was observed at early time points after infection. Coincubation of oyster plasma with P. marinus extracellular products resulted in a decrease in oyster metalloproteinases and several P. marinus proteases. This study provides insights into the role of proteases in the pathogenesis of Dermo disease.

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© American Society of Parasitologists 2003