The phoenixins: From discovery of the hormone to identification of the receptor and potential physiologic actions

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Using a series of classical protein purification techniques, coupled with more modern molecular approaches, a family of neuropeptides, the Phoenixins, was identified to be produced in brain and heart, and to bind selectively in pituitary gland, ovary and brain. These same binding sites were revealed, using a novel receptor identification strategy, to express the orphan G protein-coupled receptor, GPR173, the expression of which was required for the actions of phoenixin both in vivo and in vitro. In fact, studies using small interfering RNA molecules to compromise GPR173 expression revealed the physiologic relevance of the initially reported pharmacologic actions of the peptides. Those include not only the reproductive actions of the peptides in brain and pituitary gland, but also a CNS site of action in the maintenance of fluid and electrolyte homeostasis. Additional pharmacologic actions of the phoenixins have been described and the race is on to establish the physiologic relevance of those actions as well as the therapeutic potential of phoenixin analogs.

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