Mass spectrometric characterization and physiological actions of GAHKNYLRFamide, a novel FMRFamide-like peptide from crabs of the genus Cancer

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The stomatogastric ganglion (STG) and the cardiac ganglion (CG) of decapod crustaceans are modulated by neuroactive substances released locally and by circulating hormones released from neuroendocrine structures including the pericardial organs (POs). Using nanoscale liquid chromatography electrospray ionization quadrupole-time-of-flight tandem mass spectrometry and direct tissue matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization Fourier transform mass spectrometry we have identified and sequenced a novel neuropeptide, GAHKNYLRFamide (previously misassigned as KHKNYLRFamide in a study that did not employ peptide derivatization), from the POs and/or the stomatogastric nervous system (STNS) of the crabs, Cancer borealis, Cancer productus and Cancer magister. In C. borealis, exogenous application of GAHKNYLRFamide increased the burst frequency and number of spikes per burst of the isolated CG and re-initiated bursting activity in non-bursting ganglia, effects also elicited by the FMRFamide-like peptides (FLPs) SDRNFLRFamide and TNRNFLRFamide. In the intact STNS (which contains the STG), exogenous application of GAHKNYLRFamide increased the frequency of the pyloric rhythm and activated the gastric mill rhythm, effects also similar to those elicited by SDRNFLRFamide and TNRNFLRFamide. FLP-like immunoreactivity in the POs and the STNS was abolished by pre-adsorption with the synthetic GAHKNYLRFamide. Different members of the FLP family exhibited differential degradation in the presence of extracellular peptidases. Taken collectively, the amino acid sequence of GAHKNYLRFamide, the blocking of FLP-like immunostaining, and its physiological effects on the CG and STNS suggest that this peptide is a novel member of the FLP superfamily.

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