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Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2007 Jan;146(1):9-25. Epub 2006 Sep 22.

Cnidarian chemical neurotransmission, an updated overview.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Rhode Island, 100 Flagg Road, Kingston, RI 02881, USA.


The ultrastructural, histochemical, immunocytochemical, biochemical, molecular, behavioral and physiological evidence for non-peptidergic and peptidergic chemical neurotransmission in the Anthozoa, Hydrozoa, Scyphozoa and Cubozoa is surveyed. With the possible exception of data for the catecholamines and peptides in some animals, the set of cumulative data - the evidence from all methodologies - is incomplete. Taken together, the evidence from all experimental approaches suggests that both classical fast (acetylcholine, glutamate, GABA, glycine) and slow (catecholamines and serotonin) transmitters, as well as neuropeptides, are involved in cnidarian neurotransmission. Ultrastructural evidence for peptidergic, serotonergic, and catecholaminergic synaptic localization is available, but the presence of clear and dense-cored synaptic vesicles also suggests both fast and slow classical transmission. Immunocytochemical studies, in general, reveal a continuous, non-localized distribution of neuropeptides, suggesting a neuromodulatory role for them. Immunocytochemical and biochemical studies indicate the presence of glutamate, GABA, serotonin, catecholamines (and/or their receptors), RFamides, nitric oxide and eicosanoids in cnidarian neurons and tissues. Gene sequences for peptidergic preprohormones have been reported; putative gene homologies to receptor proteins for vertebrate transmitters have been found in Hydra. Behavioral and physiological studies implicate classical transmitters, neuropeptides, eicosanoids and nitric oxide in the coordination of the neuroeffector systems.

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