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Identification and functional characterization of the first molluscan neuromedin u receptor in the gray garden slug, deroceras reticulatum

Ahn Seung-Joon, Mc Donnell Rory J., Corcoran Jacob A., Martin Ruth C., Choi Man-Yeon
Scientific reports 2020 v.10 no. pp. -
Deroceras reticulatum, Nematoda, amino acids, blood pressure, brain, defensive behavior, gardens, genes, insects, ligands, muscle contraction, pyrokinin, slugs, vertebrates, weight loss
Neuromedin U (NmU) is a neuropeptide regulating various physiological processes, including muscle contraction, blood pressure, stress responses, and feeding behavior in vertebrates. The homologs of vertebrate NmU peptides have been identified as pyrokinin, CAPA, and ecdysis-triggering hormone, in many insect groups. These peptides belong to NmU/PRXamide family peptides because the core amino acids, PRX (X= any amino acid), are well conserved in their C-terminal ends. In evolutionary lower animal groups such as nematodes, the same NmU/PRXamide have also been identified. Here we report the first molluscan NmU/RXamide peptide and receptor from the gray garden slug, Deroceras reticulatum. Three heptapeptides (QPPLPRY, QLLVPRY, and AVPRPRI) firmly bound the receptor to activate hormone signaling, suggesting they are natural ligands for the NmU/PRXamide receptors in the slug. The peptide genes were exclusively highly expressed in the brain, while the receptor gene showed higher expression levels in both brain and foot. In vivo injection of the active peptides triggered significant defensive behavior, slime over-secretion, and weight loss, implying their essential physiological functions.