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      Functional Characterization of Paralogous Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone-Type and Corazonin-Type Neuropeptides in an Echinoderm

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          Homologs of the vertebrate neuropeptide gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) have been identified in invertebrates, including the insect neuropeptide corazonin (CRZ). Recently, we reported the discovery of GnRH-type and CRZ-type signaling systems in an echinoderm, the starfish Asterias rubens, demonstrating that the evolutionary origin of paralogous GnRH-type and CRZ-type neuropeptides can be traced back to the common ancestor of protostomes and deuterostomes. Here, we have investigated the physiological roles of the GnRH-type (ArGnRH) and the CRZ-type (ArCRZ) neuropeptides in A. rubens, using mRNA in situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry and in vitro pharmacology. ArGnRH precursor (ArGnRHP)-expressing cells and ArGnRH-immunoreactive cells and/or processes are present in the radial nerve cords, circumoral nerve ring, digestive system (e.g., cardiac stomach and pyloric stomach), body wall-associated muscle (apical muscle), and appendages (tube feet, terminal tentacle). The general distribution of ArCRZ precursor (ArCRZP)-expressing cells is similar to that of ArGnRHP, but with specific local differences. For example, cells expressing ArGnRHP are present in both the ectoneural and hyponeural regions of the radial nerve cords and circumoral nerve ring, whereas cells expressing ArCRZP were only observed in the ectoneural region . In vitro pharmacological experiments revealed that both ArGnRH and ArCRZ cause contraction of cardiac stomach, apical muscle, and tube foot preparations. However, ArGnRH was more potent/effective than ArCRZ as a contractant of the cardiac stomach, whereas ArCRZ was more potent/effective than ArGnRH as a contractant of the apical muscle. These findings demonstrate that both ArGnRH and ArCRZ are myoexcitatory neuropeptides in starfish, but differences in their expression patterns and pharmacological activities are indicative of distinct physiological roles. This is the first study to investigate the physiological roles of both GnRH-type and CRZ-type neuropeptides in a deuterostome, providing new insights into the evolution and comparative physiology of these paralogous neuropeptide signaling systems in the Bilateria.

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          Global view of the evolution and diversity of metazoan neuropeptide signaling.

          Neuropeptides are signaling molecules that commonly act via G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and are generated in neurons by proneuropeptide (pNP) cleavage. Present in both cnidarians and bilaterians, neuropeptides represent an ancient and widespread mode of neuronal communication. Due to the inherent difficulties of analyzing highly diverse and repetitive pNPs, the relationships among different families are often elusive. Using similarity-based clustering and sensitive similarity searches, I obtained a global view of metazoan pNP diversity and evolution. Clustering revealed a large and diffuse network of sequences connected by significant sequence similarity encompassing one-quarter of all families. pNPs belonging to this cluster were also identified in the early-branching neuronless animal Trichoplax adhaerens. Clustering of neuropeptide GPCRs identified several orthology groups and allowed the reconstruction of the phyletic distribution of receptor families. GPCR phyletic distribution closely paralleled that of pNPs, indicating extensive conservation and long-term coevolution of receptor-ligand pairs. Receptor orthology and intermediate sequences also revealed the homology of pNPs so far considered unrelated, including allatotropin and orexin. These findings, together with the identification of deuterostome achatin and luqin and protostome opioid pNPs, extended the neuropeptide complement of the urbilaterian. Several pNPs were also identified from the hemichordate Saccoglossus kowalevskii and the cephalochordate Branchiostoma floridae, elucidating pNP evolution in deuterostomes. Receptor-ligand conservation also allowed ligand predictions for many uncharacterized GPCRs from nonmodel species. The reconstruction of the neuropeptide-signaling repertoire at deep nodes of the animal phylogeny allowed the formulation of a testable scenario of the evolution of animal neuroendocrine systems.
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            Molecular evolution of peptidergic signaling systems in bilaterians.

            Peptide hormones and their receptors are widespread in metazoans, but the knowledge we have of their evolutionary relationships remains unclear. Recently, accumulating genome sequences from many different species have offered the opportunity to reassess the relationships between protostomian and deuterostomian peptidergic systems (PSs). Here we used sequences of all human rhodopsin and secretin-type G protein-coupled receptors as bait to retrieve potential homologs in the genomes of 15 bilaterian species, including nonchordate deuterostomian and lophotrochozoan species. Our phylogenetic analysis of these receptors revealed 29 well-supported subtrees containing mixed sets of protostomian and deuterostomian sequences. This indicated that many vertebrate and arthropod PSs that were previously thought to be phyla specific are in fact of bilaterian origin. By screening sequence databases for potential peptides, we then reconstructed entire bilaterian peptide families and showed that protostomian and deuterostomian peptides that are ligands of orthologous receptors displayed some similarity at the level of their primary sequence, suggesting an ancient coevolution between peptide and receptor genes. In addition to shedding light on the function of human G protein-coupled receptor PSs, this work presents orthology markers to study ancestral neuron types that were probably present in the last common bilaterian ancestor.
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              A glucagon-like endocrine pathway in Drosophila modulates both lipid and carbohydrate homeostasis.

              The regulation of energy homeostasis is fundamental to all organisms. The Drosophila fat body serves as a repository for both triglycerides and glycogen, combining the energy storage functions of mammalian adipose and hepatic tissues, respectively. Here we show that mutation of the Drosophila adipokinetic hormone receptor (AKHR), a functional analog of the mammalian glucagon receptor, leads to abnormal accumulation of both lipid and carbohydrate. As a consequence of their obese phenotypes, AKHR mutants are markedly starvation resistant. We show that AKHR is expressed in the fat body, and, intriguingly, in a subset of gustatory neurons that mediate sweet taste. Genetic rescue experiments establish that the metabolic phenotypes arise exclusively from the fat body AKHR expression. Behavioral experiments demonstrate that AKHR mutants are neither sedentary nor hyperphagic, suggesting the metabolic abnormalities derive from a genetic propensity to retain energy stores. Taken together, our results indicate that a single endocrine pathway contributes to both lipid and carbohydrate catabolism in the Drosophila fat body.

                Author and article information

                Front Endocrinol (Lausanne)
                Front Endocrinol (Lausanne)
                Front. Endocrinol.
                Frontiers in Endocrinology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                29 September 2017
                : 8
                1School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary University of London , London, United Kingdom
                Author notes

                Edited by: Tomer Ventura, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia

                Reviewed by: Honoo Satake, Suntory Foundation for Life Sciences, Japan; Shannon William Davis, University of South Carolina, United States

                *Correspondence: Maurice R. Elphick, m.r.elphick@ 123456qmul.ac.uk

                Specialty section: This article was submitted to Genomic Endocrinology, a section of the journal Frontiers in Endocrinology

                Copyright © 2017 Tian, Egertová and Elphick.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 13, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 90, Pages: 24, Words: 15903
                Funded by: China Scholarship Council 10.13039/501100004543
                Funded by: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council 10.13039/501100000268
                Award ID: BB/M001644/1
                Original Research


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