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Parasitology. 2005;131 Suppl:S109-27.

The ever-expanding neuropeptide gene families in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.

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  • Department of Biology, City College of the City University of New York, Convent Avenue at 138th Street, New York, NY 10031, USA. cli@sci.ccny.cuny.edu


Neuropeptides act as chemical signals in the nervous system to modulate behaviour. With the ongoing EST projects and DNA sequence determination of different genomes, the identification of neuropeptide genes has been made easier. Despite the relatively 'simple' repertoire of behaviours in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, this worm contains a surprisingly large and diverse set of neuropeptide genes. At least 109 genes encoding over 250 potential neuropeptides have been identified in C. elegans; all genes are likely to be expressed and many, if not all, of the predicted peptides are produced. The predicted peptides include: 38 insulin-like peptides, several of which are involved in development and reproductive growth, and over 70 FMRFamide-related peptides, some of which are involved in locomotion, reproduction, and social behaviour. Many of the C. elegans peptides are identical or highly similar to those isolated or predicted in parasitic nematodes, such as Ascaris suum, Haemonchus contortus, Ancylostoma caninum, Heterodera glycines and Meloidogyne arenaria, suggesting that the function of these peptides is similar across species. The challenge for the future is to determine the function of all the genes and individual peptides and to identify the receptors through which the peptides signal.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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