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Comparative Aspects of Fmrfamide Gene Organization in Molluscs

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

In pulmonate molluscs two precursors for FMRFamide-related peptides (FaRPs) are generated from a single gene by alternative splicing. One precursor gives rise to FMRFamide and FLRFamide and a few variants: the tetra-FaRPs. A second precursor gives rise to heptapeptides of the form XDPFLRFamide and variants: the hepta-FaRPs. The tetra-FaRPs and hepta-FaRPs have mutually exclusive cellular localizations and have some differing actions on neurons and muscles. Hepta-FaRPs have been found in all pulmonates examined, even the most primitive species, but only in pulmonates and not other gastropods. A decapeptide FaRP isolated from the mussel Mytilus-ALAGDHFFRFamide is one of the more hepta-FaRP-like peptides isolated from a non-pulmonate, and thus is a candidate homolog of the hepta-FaRPs. But we show that this decapeptide is encoded on the same exon as FMRFamide in the mussel Geukensia, and thus is not a real homolog of the hepta-FaRPs. Since the one and only FaRP precursor known from the opisthobranch Aplysia has a splice junction at a location similar to that of the tetra-FaRP precursor of pulmonates, we speculated that an alternatively-spliced form of the FMRFamide gene exists in this species too. One candidate was the precursor for a group of peptides ending in LFRFamide, but we found that this precursor has no significant sequence in common with the FMRFamide precursor. Thus, there remains a dichotomy between pulmonates and all other molluscs with regard to their FMRFamide genes and FMRFamide-related peptides.

Affiliations: 1: The Whitney Laboratory, University of Florida, St. Augustine, FL 32086, U.S.A.


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