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Biochem J. Jun 1, 1998; 332(Pt 2): 403–412.
PMCID: PMC1219495

Three different prohormones yield a variety of Hydra-RFamide (Arg-Phe-NH2) neuropeptides in Hydra magnipapillata.


The freshwater polyp Hydra is the most frequently used model for the study of development in cnidarians. Recently we isolated four novel Arg-Phe-NH2 (RFamide) neuropeptides, the Hydra-RFamides I-IV, from Hydra magnipapillata. Here we describe the molecular cloning of three different preprohormones from H. magnipapillata, each of which gives rise to a variety of RFamide neuropeptides. Preprohormone A contains one copy of unprocessed Hydra-RFamide I (QWLGGRFG), II (QWFNGRFG), III/IV [(KP)HLRGRFG] and two putative neuropeptide sequences (QLMSGRFG and QLMRGRFG). Preprohormone B has the same general organization as preprohormone A, but instead of unprocessed Hydra-RFamide III/IV it contains a slightly different neuropeptide sequence [(KP)HYRGRFG]. Preprohormone C contains one copy of unprocessed Hydra-RFamide I and seven additional putative neuropeptide sequences (with the common N-terminal sequence QWF/LSGRFGL). The two Hydra-RFamide II copies (in preprohormones A and B) are preceded by Thr residues, and the single Hydra-RFamide III/IV copy (in preprohormone A) is preceded by an Asn residue, confirming that cnidarians use unconventional processing signals to generate neuropeptides from their precursor proteins. Southern blot analyses suggest that preprohormones A and B are each coded for by a single gene, whereas one or possibly two closely related genes code for preprohormone C. Northern blot analyses and in situ hybridizations show that the gene coding for preprohormone A is expressed in neurons of both the head and foot regions of Hydra, whereas the genes coding for preprohormones B and C are specifically expressed in neurons of different regions of the head. All of this shows that neuropeptide biosynthesis in the primitive metazoan Hydra is already rather complex.

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Selected References

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