Structural determination, distribution, and physiological actions of ghrelin in the guinea pig
We identified guinea pig ghrelin (gp-ghrelin), and examined its distribution and physiological actions in the guinea-pig. Gp-ghrelin is a 28-amino acid peptide (GASFR SPEHH SAQQR KESRK LPAKI QPR); seven amino acids are different from that of rat ghrelin at positions 2, 5, 10, 11, 19, 21, and 25, which include the conserved region known in mammals. The third serine residue is mainly modified by n-decanoyl acid. Both gp-ghrelin and rat ghrelin increased intracellular Ca2+ concentration of HEK293 cells expressing guinea pig growth hormone secretagogue receptor 1a (GHS-R1a), and the affinity of gp-ghrelin was slightly higher than that of rat ghrelin. In addition, gp-ghrelin was also effective in CHO cells expressing rat GHS-R1a with similar affinity to that of rat ghrelin. Gp-ghrelin mRNA was predominantly expressed in the stomach, whereas the expression levels in other organs was low. High levels of GHS-R1a mRNA expression were observed in the pituitary, medulla oblongata, and kidney, while medium levels were noted in the thalamus, pons, olfactory bulb, and heart. Immunohistochemistry identified gp-ghrelin-immunopositive cells in the gastric mucosa and pancreas. Intraperitoneal injection of gp-ghrelin increased food intake in the guinea pig. Gp-ghrelin did not cause any mechanical responses in isolated gastrointestinal smooth muscles in vitro, similar to rat ghrelin. In conclusion, the N-terminal structures that are conserved in mammals were different in gp-ghrelin. Moreover, the functional characteristics of gp-ghrelin, other than its distribution, were dissimilar from those in other Rodentia.