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Int J Parasitol. 2007 Jun;37(7):725-33. Epub 2007 Jan 26.

Identification of a platyhelminth neuropeptide receptor.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences and Neuroscience Program, Iowa State University, Ames IA 50011, USA.


We report the characterisation of the first neuropeptide receptor from the phylum Platyhelminthes, an early-diverging phylum which includes a number of important human and veterinary parasites. The G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) was identified from the model flatworm Girardia tigrina (Tricladida: Dugesiidae) based on the presence of motifs widely conserved amongst GPCRs. In two different assays utilising heterologous expression in Chinese hamster ovary cells, the Girardia GPCR was most potently activated by neuropeptides from the FMRFamide-like peptide class. The most potent platyhelminth neuropeptide in both assays was GYIRFamide, a FMRFamide-like peptide known to be present in G. tigrina. There was no activation by neuropeptide Fs, another class of flatworm neuropeptides. Also active were FMRFamide-like peptides derived from other phyla but not known to be present in any platyhelminth. Most potent among these were nematode neuropeptides encoded by the Caenorhabditis elegans flp-1 gene which share a PNFLRFamide carboxy terminal motif. The ability of nematode peptides to stimulate a platyhelminth receptor demonstrates a degree of structural conservation between FMRFamide-like peptide receptors from these two distinct, distant phyla which contain parasitic worms.

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