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Expression of the neuropeptides RFamide and LWamide during development of the coral Acropora millepora in relation to settlement and metamorphosis
- Attenborough, Rosalind M.F., Hayward, David C., Wiedemann, Ursula, Forêt, Sylvain, Miller, David J., Ball, Eldon E.
- Developmental biology 2019 v.446 no.1 pp. 56-67
- Acropora millepora, adults, antibodies, corals, ectoderm, immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization, messenger RNA, metamorphosis, mouth, nerve tissue, neuropeptides, staining
- Neuropeptides play critical roles in cnidarian development. However, although they are known to play key roles in settlement and metamorphosis, their temporal and spatial developmental expression has not previously been characterized in any coral. We here describe Acropora millepora LWamide and RFamide and their developmental expression from the time of their first appearance, using in situ hybridization and FMRFamide immunohistochemistry. AmRFamide transcripts first appear in the ectoderm toward the oral end of the planula larva following blastopore closure. This oral bias becomes less apparent as the planula develops. The cell bodies of AmRFamide-expressing cells are centrally located in the ectoderm, with narrow projections to the mesoglea and to the cell surface. As the planula approaches settlement, AmRFamide expression disappears and is undetectable in the newly settled polyp. Expressing cells then gradually reappear as the polyp develops, becoming particularly abundant on the tentacles. AmLWamide transcripts first appear in ectodermal cells of the developing planula, with minimal expression at its two ends. The cell bodies of expressing cells lie just above the mesoglea, in a position distinct from those of AmRFamide-expressing cells, and have a narrow projection extending across the ectoderm to its surface. AmLWamide-expressing cells persist for most of the planula stage, disappearing shortly before settlement, but later than AmRFamide-expressing cells. As is the case with AmRFamide, expressing cells are absent from the polyp immediately after settlement, reappearing later on its oral side. AmLWamide expression lags that of AmRFamide in both its disappearance and reappearance. Antibodies to FMRFamide stain cells in a pattern similar to that of the transcripts, but also cells in areas where there is no expression revealed by in situ hybridization, most notably at the aboral end of the planula and in the adult polyp. Adult polyps have numerous staining cells on the tentacles and oral discs, as well as an immunoreactive nerve ring around the mouth. There are scattered staining cells in the coenosarc between polyps and staining cells are abundant in the mesenterial filaments. The above results are discussed in the context of our knowledge of the behavior of coral planulae at the time of their settlement and metamorphosis. Corals are facing multiple environmental threats, and these results both highlight the need for, and bring us a step closer to, a mechanistic understanding of a process that is critical to their survival.