Identification of a novel starfish neuropeptide that acts as a muscle relaxant.
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Neuropeptides that act as muscle relaxants have been identified in chordates and protostomian invertebrates but little is known about the molecular identity of neuropeptides that act as muscle relaxants in deuterostomian invertebrates (e.g. echinoderms) that are 'evolutionary intermediates' of chordates and protostomes. Here, we have used the apical muscle of the starfish Patiria pectinifera to assay for myorelaxants in extracts of this species. A hexadecapeptide with the amino acid sequence Phe-Gly-Lys-Gly-Gly-Ala-Tyr-Asp-Pro-Leu-Ser-Ala-Gly-Phe-Thr-Asp was identified and designated starfish myorelaxant peptide (SMP). Cloning and sequencing of a cDNA encoding the SMP precursor protein revealed that it comprises 12 copies of SMP as well as 3 peptides (7 copies in total) that are structurally related to SMP. Analysis of the expression of SMP precursor transcripts in P. pectinifera using qPCR revealed the highest expression in the radial nerve cords and lower expression levels in a range of neuromuscular tissues, including the apical muscle, tube feet and cardiac stomach. Consistent with these findings, SMP also caused relaxation of tube foot and cardiac stomach preparations. Furthermore, SMP caused relaxation of apical muscle preparations from another starfish species - Asterias amurensis. Collectively, these data indicate that SMP has a general physiological role as a muscle relaxant in starfish. Interestingly, comparison of the sequence of the SMP precursor with known neuropeptide precursors revealed that SMP belongs to a bilaterian family of neuropeptides that include molluscan pedal peptides (PP) and arthropodan orcokinins (OK). This is the first study to determine the function of a PP/OK-type peptide in a deuterostome. Pedal peptide/orcokinin (PP/OK)-type peptides are a family of structurally related neuropeptides that were first identified and functionally characterised in protostomian invertebrates. Here, we report the discovery of starfish myorelaxant peptide (SMP), a novel member of the PP/OK-type neuropeptide identified in the starfish Patiria pectinifera (phylum Echinodermata). SMP is the first PP/OK-type neuropeptide to be functionally characterised in a deuterostome.
AuthorsKim, C-H; Kim, EJ; Go, H-J; Oh, HY; Lin, M; Elphick, MR; Park, NG
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