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Regul Pept. 1986 Dec 30;16(3-4):269-79.

Identification and localization of material with gastrin-like immunoreactivity in the neural ganglion of a protochordate, Ciona intestinalis.


Little is known of the identity of gastrin/cholecystokinin (CCK)-like peptides in protochordates. These animals are at a level of organization corresponding to that from which the vertebrate line arose; in order to shed light on the origins of gastrin/CCK-like peptides, we have studied by immunochemical methods these peptides in a protochordate, Ciona intestinalis. In radioimmunoassay, boiling water extracts of the neural ganglion reacted with C-terminal specific gastrin/CCK antibodies, but not N-terminal or intact G17 specific antibodies. Of particular importance was the fact that a gastrin antibody which reacts weakly with CCK8 showed full activity with the Ciona material, suggesting that it resembles the C-terminus of gastrin. A single major peak was found by gel filtration and HPLC. In immunohistochemistry, nerve cell bodies were found in the cortical regions of the ganglion, and abundant fibres ramified in the central neuropile. We conclude that peptides of the gastrin/CCK series occur in nervous tissue in protochordates, and that while they are distinguishable from known forms of both gastrin and CCK, they resemble C-terminal fragments of the mammalian gastrins.

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