Neuropeptides encoded within a neural transcriptome of the giant triton snailCharonia tritonis,a Crown-of-Thorns Starfish predator

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Abstract

Neuropeptides represent a diverse class of signaling molecules originating from neural tissues. These chemical modulators orchestrate complex physiological events including those associated with growth and reproduction. De novo transcriptome sequencing of a cerebral ganglion library of the endangered giant triton snail (Charonia tritonis) was undertaken in an effort to identify key neuropeptides that control or influence its physiology. The giant triton snail is considered a primary predator of the corallivore Acanthaster planci (Crown-of-Thorns Starfish) that is responsible for a significant loss in coral cover on reefs in the Indo-Pacific. The transcriptome library was assembled into contigs, and then bioinformatic analysis was used to identify a repertoire of 38 giant triton snail neuropeptide precursor genes, and various isoforms, that encode conserved molluscan neuropeptides. C. tritonis neuropeptides show overall precursor organisation consistent with those of other molluscs. These include those neuropeptides associated with mollusc reproduction such as the APGWamide, buccalin, conopressin, gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), NKY and egg-laying hormone. These data provide a foundation for further studies targeted towards the functional characterisation of neuropeptides to further understand aspects of the biology of the giant triton snail, such as elucidating its reproductive neuroendocrine pathway to allow the development of knowledge based captive breeding programs.

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