Peptides (v.27, #5)

Contents List (v-vi).

Introduction by Jean-Marie Zajac; Catherine Mollereau (941-942).

Modulatory roles of the NPFF system in pain mechanisms at the spinal level by Hsiu-Ying T. Yang; Michael J. Iadarola (943-952).
The possible roles of the NPFF system in pain processing are summarized from the viewpoints of (1) biological activities of NPFF, (2) anatomical distribution of NPFF and its receptor(s) and (3) the regulation of NPFF and receptor(s) in animal models of pain. NPFF and NPFF analogues were found to have analgesic, pronociceptive and morphine modulating activities. Since the isolation of NPFF, several other RF-NH2 peptides have been identified and some of them were found to have nociceptive or morphine modulating activity. Depending on the pharmacological doses and locations of administration, NPFF may exhibit the biological activities of other structurally related RF-NH2 peptides thus complicating NPFF bioactivity studies and their interpretation. Acid sensing ion channels were found to respond to RF-NH2 peptides including NPFF, raising the possibility that interaction of NPFF and acid sensing ion channels can modulate nociceptive activity. NPFF and NPFF receptor mRNAs are highly expressed and localized in the superficial layers of the dorsal cord, the two genes are also in dorsal root ganglia though at much lower level. The spinal NPFF system is up-regulated by peripheral inflammation in the rat. Furthermore, immunohistochemically, NPFF receptor 2-protein was demonstrated to be increased in the primary afferents in the spinal cord of rats with peripheral inflammation. Regulation and localization of spinal NPFF systems, taken together with the analgesic bioactivity of intrathecally administered NPFF, strongly suggest involvement of spinal NPFF system in pain processing.
Keywords: NPFF; RF-NH2 peptides; NPFF receptor; Nociception; Inflammation; Spinal level;

Facilitation of spinal morphine analgesia in normal and morphine tolerant animals by neuropeptide SF and related peptides by K. Jhamandas; B. Milne; M. Sutak; C. Gouarderes; J.-M. Zajac; H.-Y.T. Yang (953-963).
Neuropeptide FF and related synthetic amidated peptides have been shown to elicit sustained anti-nociceptive responses and potently augment spinal anti-nociceptive actions of spinal morphine in tests of thermal and mechanical nociception. Recent studies have described the occurrence of another octapeptide, neuropeptide SF (NPSF) in the spinal cord and the cerebrospinal fluid and demonstrated its affinity for the NPFF receptors. This study examined the effects of NPSF and two putative precursor peptides, EFW-NPSF and NPAF, on the spinal actions of morphine in normal and opioid tolerant rats using the tailflick and pawpressure tests. In normal rats, NPSF demonstrated weak intrinsic activity but sub-effective doses of the peptide significantly increased the magnitude and duration of spinal morphine anti-nociception in both tests. A low-dose of NPSF also augmented the spinal actions of a delta receptor agonist, deltorphin. The morphine-potentiating effect of NPSF was shared by EFW-NPSF and the octadecapeptide NPAF. In animal rendered tolerant by continuous intrathecal infusion of morphine for 6 days, low dose NPSF itself elicited a significant anti-nociceptive response and potently increased morphine-induced response in both tests. In animals made tolerant by repeated injections of intrathecal morphine, administration of NPSF, EFW-NPSF, and NPAF with morphine reversed the loss of the anti-nociceptive effect and restored the agonist potency. The results demonstrate that in normal animals NPSF and related peptides exert strong potentiating effect on morphine anti-nociception at the spinal level and in tolerant animals these agents can reverse the loss of morphine potency.
Keywords: Spinal morphine; Neuropeptide SF; Analgesia; Tolerance;

A neuropeptide FF agonist blocks the acquisition of conditioned place preference to morphine in C57Bl/6J mice by Stéphane Marchand; Alexandre Betourne; Virginie Marty; Stéphanie Daumas; Hélène Halley; Jean-Michel Lassalle; Jean-Marie Zajac; Bernard Frances (964-972).
Neuropeptide FF behaves as an opioid-modulating peptide that seems to be involved in morphine tolerance and physical dependence. Nevertheless, the effects of neuropeptide FF agonists on the rewarding properties of morphine remain unknown. C57BL6 mice were conditioned in an unbiased balanced paradigm of conditioned place preference to study the effect of i.c.v. injections of 1DMe (d-Tyr1(NMe)Phe3]NPFF), a stable agonist of the neuropeptide FF system, on the acquisition of place conditioning by morphine or alcohol (ethanol). Morphine (10 mg/kg, i.p.) or ethanol (2 g/kg, i.p.) induced a significant place preference. Injection of 1DMe (1–20 nmol), given 10 min before the i.p. injection of the reinforcing drug during conditioning, inhibited the rewarding effect of morphine but had no effect on the rewarding effect of ethanol. However, a single injection of 1DMe given just before place preference testing was unable to inhibit the rewarding effects of morphine. By itself, 1DMe was inactive but an aversive effect of this agonist could be evidenced if the experimental procedure was biased. These results suggest that neuropeptide FF, injected during conditioning, should influence the development of rewarding effects of morphine and reinforce the hypothesis of strong inhibitory interactions between neuropeptide FF and opioids.
Keywords: Neuropeptide FF; Reward; Conditioned place preference; Morphine; Ethanol; Mouse;

Neuropeptide FF (NPFF) is an octapeptide belonging to an extended family of RF amide peptides that have been implicated in a wide variety of physiological functions in the brain. NPFF and its receptors are abundantly expressed in the rat brain and spinal cord including the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVN), an autonomic nucleus critical for the secretion of neurohormones and the regulation of sympathetic outflow. In this study, we sought to examine the effects of NPFF on GABAergic inhibitory synaptic input to magnocellular neurosecretory cells (MNCs) of the PVN, which secrete the neurohormones, vasopressin and oxytocin from their terminals in the neurohypophysis. Whole cell patch clamp recordings under voltage clamp conditions were performed from PVN MNCs in the brain slice. Bicuculline-sensitive inhibitory postsynaptic currents (IPSCs) were isolated in the presence of glutamate receptor blockers. In tetrodotoxin, NPFF (5 μM) caused an increase in frequency, but not amplitude of miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents (mIPSCs) in MNCs indicating a presynaptic locus of action for this peptide. Intracerebroventricular application of NPFF resulted in an activation of GABAergic neurons located adjacent to the PVN as revealed by immunohistochemistry for Fos protein and in situ hybridization for glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD67) mRNA. Based on these observations we conclude that NPFF facilitates inhibitory input to MNCs of the PVN via GABAergic interneurons located in immediate vicinity of the nucleus. These findings provide a cellular and anatomic basis for the NPFF-induced inhibition of vasopressin release has been reported consequent to hypovolemia and hyperosmolar stimulation.
Keywords: Morphine modulatory peptide; RF amide; Electrophysiology; GABA; In situ hybridization; Fos;

Anti-opioid activities of NPFF1 receptors in a SH-SY5Y model by Flavie Kersanté; Catherine Mollereau; Jean-Marie Zajac; Michel Roumy (980-989).
In order to elucidate the mechanisms of the neuronal anti-opioid activity of Neuropeptide FF, we have transfected the SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cell line, which expresses μ- and δ-opioid receptors, with the human NPFF1 receptor. The SH1-C7 clone expresses high affinity NPFF1 receptors in the same range order of density as opioid receptors. Similarly to the opioids, acute stimulation with the NPFF1 agonist NPVF inhibits adenylyl cyclase activity and voltage-gated (N-type) Ca2+ currents and enhances the intracellular Ca2+ release triggered by muscarinic receptors activation. In contrast, preincubation of cells with NPVF decreases the response to opioids on both calcium signaling, thus reproducing the cellular anti-opioid activity described in neurons. SH1-C7 cells are therefore a suitable model to investigate the interactions between NPFF and opioid receptors.
Keywords: NPFF receptors; SH-SY5Y cells; Opioid receptors; Calcium signaling;

Structure–activity relationships of neuropeptide FF and related peptidic and non-peptidic derivatives by Neha Vyas; Catherine Mollereau; Gwénaël Chevé; Christopher R. McCurdy (990-996).
Neuropeptide FF, a member of the RFamide family of peptides, has demonstrated an interesting array of pharmacological effects. To date however, little information has been obtained as to the exact pharmacological roles of the individual NPFF1 and NPFF2 receptors. Through peptide analogs of NPFF and related peptides, the essential pharmacophore has emerged somewhat. Yet, the field is lacking small molecule ligands selective for each receptor. This review of the structure–activity relationships of the reported NPFF peptide analogs and some non-selective small molecule ligands highlights the current understanding of the pharmacophoric elements required for affinity and activity at the NPFF receptors. The lack of mutagenesis data on the receptor as well as a crystal structure has also hindered the understanding of ligand recognition at the receptor level. If the targets can be further investigated as to their requirements for ligand recognition, the successful development of highly selective ligands should follow.
Keywords: Neuropeptide FF; NPFF analogs; Structure–activity relationships; NPFF1 receptor; NPFF2 receptor;

The high throughput screening of neuropeptide FF2 receptor ligands from Korean herbal plant extracts by Ernest U. Do; Long Zhu Piao; Gyu Choi; Young Bong Choi; Tong Mook Kang; Jaekyoon Shin; Yung-Jin Chang; Hee-Young Nam; Ho-Jin Kim; Su-il Kim (997-1004).
We have screened 356 libraries of Korean herbal plant extracts to find potential anti-obesity drugs. We employed the recently developed fluorescence polarization high throughput screening (FP HTS) assays of human neuropeptide FF (NPFF) receptors in 384-well microtiter plates. The primary hits were cherry-picked from the libraries and further analyzed by secondary displacement curve assays, in vitro GTPγS binding assays and cell-based CRE luciferase reporter assays. Agonists of NPFF receptors showed biphasic affinity curves while the antagonist, BIBP 3226, gave a monophasic affinity curve in competitive binding assays. We isolated and characterized two agonists of human NPFF2 receptor, PC 314 with K i of 1.42 μM, and PC 315 with K i of 2.17 μM from Schizandra chinensis. PC 314 and PC 315 have been characterized as benzoylgomisin Q (M.W. 552) and gomisin G (M.W. 536). We report that PC 314 and PC 315 are the first non-peptide, natural compounds, which bind to human NPFF2 receptors with good affinity. PC 314 and PC 315 inhibit forskolin-stimulated luciferase expression when CHO cells are co-transfected with NPFF2 receptor and CRE reporter vector. They possess the pharmacological and functional profiles of full agonists. The FP HTS system provides a specific, sensitive and reproducible methodology for studying and screening NPFF receptor ligands.
Keywords: Fluorescence polarization; High throughput screening; Neuropeptide FF; Neuropeptide FF2 receptor; CRE luciferase reporter assay; Rank order of potency;

Rat NPFF1 receptor-mediated signaling: functional comparison of neuropeptide FF (NPFF), FMRFamide and PFR(Tic)amide by Jin-Chung Chen; Wei-Hsin Lee; Pei-Chun Chen; Ching-Ping Tseng; Eagle Yi-Kung Huang (1005-1014).
Neuropeptide FF (NPFF) participates in many physiological functions associated with opioids in the mammalian CNS. We established a pheochromocytoma PC-12 cell line clone stably expressing rat NPFF1 receptors. Both NPFF and FMRFamide activated NPFF1 receptors to couple with Gi/o protein and inhibited adenylyl cyclase activity in PC-12/rNPFF1 cells, but there were no effects on MAPKs (ERK1/2 and p38 MAPK) or PI3K/Akt pathway. FMRFamide also inhibited DARPP-32/Thr34 phosphorylation in the presence of forskolin. Similarly, PFR(Tic)amide, a ‘super-agonist’ of NPFF receptors, inhibited the production of cAMP and slightly decreased DARPP-32/Thr34 phosphorylation in PC-12/rNPFF1 cells. Intracerebroventricular injections of PFR(Tic)amide blocked behavioral sensitization of locomotor activity to amphetamine, and intrathecal injection of PFR(Tic)amide caused a dose-dependent antinociception in vivo in rats. Thus, “over-activation” of NPFF receptors by PFR(Tic)amide induced different bio-effects from those induced by NPFF in vivo.
Keywords: Neuropeptide FF; FMRFamide; NPFF1 receptor; cAMP; DARPP-32; PFR(Tic)amide;

Cardiovascular effects of neuropeptide FF antagonists by Laszlo Prokai; Alevtina D. Zharikova; Attila Juhasz; Katalin Prokai-Tatrai (1015-1019).
The neuropeptide FF (NPFF) antagonist desaminotyrosyl-Phe-Leu-Phe-Gln-Pro-Gln-Arg-NH2 dose-dependently reversed NPFF-induced elevation of blood pressure in anesthetized rats after intravenous injection without causing a significant change of blood pressure and heart rate by itself. However, another antagonist dansyl-Pro-Gln-Arg-NH2 produced a significant drop of the mean arterial pressure only at a large dose (10 μmol/kg body weight), but reversal of the NPFF-induced hypertension was modest. Consequently and contrary to the conclusions of a previous study, NPFF antagonists cannot be identified simply by measuring the changes in the hemodynamic parameters upon the injection of the compounds alone and without a subsequent NPFF challenge.
Keywords: Neuropeptide FF; Antagonist; Hemodynamic parameters; Rat;

Identification of transcriptional regulators of neuropeptide FF gene expression by Johanna M. Nystedt; Annika Brandt; Ferdinand S. Vilim; Edward B. Ziff; Pertti Panula (1020-1035).
Neuropeptide FF (NPFF) is an RF-amide peptide with pleiotropic functions in the mammalian central nervous system, including pain modulation, opiate interactions, cardiovascular regulation and neuroendocrine effects. To gain insights into the transcriptional mechanisms that regulate NPFF gene expression, we cloned and sequenced 9.8 and 1.5 kb of the mouse and rat NPFF 5′-flanking region, respectively. Regions with high sequence homology between mouse, rat and human were expected to have high probability to interact with regulatory proteins and were studied further. Electromobility shift assays revealed one region that may interact with the homeobox proteins Oct-1, PDX1, Pit-1 and MEIS and two consensus DRE sites that bind a nuclear protein, which was identified as the downstream regulatory element antagonistic modulator DREAM by supershift assays. The distribution of NPFF gene expression was examined in the mouse using in situ hybridization and RT-PCR. NPFF expression was also evident during mouse embryogenesis. A fixed transcription initiation site for the mouse NPFF gene was found. A novel splice variant with a retained intron of the NPFF gene was characterized. Chimeric luciferase reporter gene constructs for the mouse NPFF gene revealed a minimal promoter region and a region with transcriptional suppressor features. An NGF responsive area was found using mouse NPFF reporter gene constructs. We postulate that Oct-1, PDX1, Pit-1, MEIS and DREAM are likely transcriptional regulators of NPFF gene expression.
Keywords: NPFF; DREAM; Pain; Antiopioid; Promoter; RFamide;

Spatiotemporal sequence of appearance of NPFF-immunoreactive structures in the developing central nervous system of Xenopus laevis by Jesús M. López; Nerea Moreno; Ruth Morona; Margarita Muñoz; Agustín González (1036-1053).
Neuropeptide FF-like immunoreactive (NPFFir) cells and fibers were analyzed through development of Xenopus laevis. The first NPFFir cells appeared in the embryonic hypothalamus, which projected to the intermediate lobe of the hypophysis, the brainstem and spinal cord. Slightly later, scattered NPFFir cells were present in the olfactory bulbs and ventral telencephalon. In the caudal medulla, NPFFir cells were observed in the nucleus of the solitary tract only at embryonic and early larval stages. Abundant NPFFir cells and fibers were demonstrated in the spinal cord. The sequence of appearance observed in Xenopus shares many developmental features with mammals although notable differences were observed in the telencephalon and hypothalamus. In general, NPFF immunoreactivity developed earlier in amphibians than in mammals.
Keywords: Neuropeptide FF; FMRFamide; Immunohistochemistry; Comparative neuroanatomy; Evolution; Amphibian;

Distribution of neuropeptide FF-like immunoreactive structures in the lamprey central nervous system and its relation to catecholaminergic neuronal structures by Manuel A. Pombal; Jesús M. López; María C. de Arriba; Manuel Megías; Agustín González (1054-1072).
The neuropeptide FF (NPFF) is an octapeptide of the RFamide-related peptides (FaRPs) that was primarily isolated from the bovine brain. Its distribution in the CNS has been reported in several mammalian species, as well as in some amphibians. Therefore, in order to gain insight in the evolution on the expression pattern of this neuropeptide in vertebrates, we carried out an immunohistochemical study in the sea lamprey, Petromyzon marinus. The distribution of NPFF-like-immunoreactive (NPFF-ir) structures in the lamprey brain is, in general, comparable to that previously described in other vertebrate species. In lamprey, most of the NPFF-ir cells were found in the hypothalamus, particularly in two large populations, the bed nucleus of the tract of the postoptic commissure and the tuberomammillary area. Numerous NPFF-ir cells were also observed in the rostral rhombencephalon, including a population in the dorsal isthmic gray and the reticular formation. Additional labeled neurons were found inside the preoptic region, the parapineal vesicle, the periventricular mesencephalic tegmentum, the descending trigeminal tract, the nucleus of the solitary tract, as well as in the gray matter of the spinal cord. The NPFF-ir fibers were widely distributed in the brain and the spinal cord, being, in general, more concentrated throughout the basal plate. The presence of NPFF-ir fibers in the lamprey neurohypophysis suggests that the involvement of NPFF-like substances in the hypothalamo-hypophyseal system had emerged early during evolution.
Keywords: FMRFamide-related peptides; Neuropeptides; Immunohistochemistry; Hypothalamus; Agnathan; Evolution;

Since the first discovery of a peptide with RFamide structure at its C-terminus (i.e., an RFamide peptide) from an invertebrate in 1977, numerous studies on RFamide peptides have been conducted, and a variety have been identified in various phyla throughout the animal kingdom. The first reported mammalian RFamide peptides were neuropeptide FF (NPFF) and neuropeptide AF (NPAF) in 1985. However, for many years after this, no new novel RFamide peptides were identified in mammals. A breakthrough in discovering mammalian RFamide peptides was made possible by reverse pharmacology on the basis of orphan G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) research. The first report of an RFamide peptide identified from orphan GPCR research was prolactin (PRL)-releasing peptide (PrRP) in 1998. To date, a total of five RFamide peptide genes have been discovered in mammals. Orphan GPCR research has contributed considerably to the identification of these peptides and their receptor genes. This paper examines these mammalian RFamide peptides focusing especially on PrRP, RFamide-related peptides (RFRPs) and, the most recently identified, pyroglutamylated RFamide peptide (QRFP), the discovery of all of which the authors were at least partly involved in. We review here the strategies employed for the identification of these peptides and examine their characteristics, tissue distribution, receptors and functions.
Keywords: RFamide peptides; QRFP; PrRP; RFRPs; Orphan GPCR;

Prediction of neuropeptide prohormone cleavages with application to RFamides by Bruce R. Southey; Sandra L. Rodriguez-Zas; Jonathan V. Sweedler (1087-1098).
Genomic information is becoming available for an ever-wider range of animals with the genes for several well-characterized peptide families, such as the RFamides, detected in a surprisingly diverse set of these animals. While bioinformatic tools allow the prediction of the RFamide-related prohormones from genetic information, it is more difficult to accurately predict the final processed peptides because of the large number of processing steps required to convert a prohormone into mature bioactive peptides. Several statistical-based methods for predicting basic site cleavages in prohormones are described, and their ability to predict the basic site cleavages in a variety of RFamide-related peptides from vertebrates and invertebrates is reported. Specifically, the cleavages in the invertebrate FMRFamides, and the vertebrate NPFFa, RFRPa, and PrRPa peptide families are modeled. The three models compared here are based on known cleavage motifs, a logistic regression, and artificial neural networks. Improvements in the accuracy and precision of the cleavage estimates will lead to increased utilization of these models for predicting bioactive neuropeptides before experimental verification is available.
Keywords: Neuropeptides; Prohormone processing; Statistical models; RFamides;

Prolactin releasing peptide (PrRP): An endogenous regulator of cell growth by Willis K. Samson; Meghan M. Taylor (1099-1103).
Prolactin releasing peptide (PrRP) was originally reported to act in the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland to stimulate prolactin (PRL) release; however, numerous other pharmacologic actions of PrRP have been described. In the central nervous system PrRP inhibits food intake, stimulates sympathetic tone, and activates stress hormone secretion. Here, we confirm the presence of immunoreactive PrRP in a pheochromocytoma–derived cell line (PC-12) and the ability of exogenous PrRP to stimulate adenylyl cyclase activity in these cultures. Our novel findings are that PrRP stimulated PC-12 cell growth. Furthermore, a role for endogenous PrRP in PC-12 cell growth is suggested by our observations that antisense oligonucleotides and small interfering RNA molecules, which decrease peptide content in these cells, also decrease thymidine incorporation, suggesting an autocrine action of the peptide.
Keywords: Radioimmunoassay; Antisense oligonucleotides; Small interfering RNA; Cell growth;

Prolactin-releasing peptide is essential to maintain the prolactin level and osmotic balance in freshwater teleost fish by Masaaki Fujimoto; Tatsuya Sakamoto; Tomokazu Kanetoh; Michiyo Osaka; Shunsuke Moriyama (1104-1109).
We administered prolactin-releasing peptide (PrRP) or anti-PrRP antiserum to goldfish in fresh water and analyzed their effects on prolactin and osmoregulatory mechanisms. The pituitary mRNA level of prolactin increased by PrRP but decreased by anti-PrRP. The rate of water inflow in the gills decreased by PrRP and increased by anti-PrRP, showing that PrRP restricts branchial water permeability, as also restricted by prolactin. PrRP also expanded the mucous cell layers on the scales, which may restrict efficiently water inflow by the mucous system. Eventually, the plasma osmotic pressure decreased by anti-PrRP. We conclude that PrRP is essential to maintain prolactin levels and osmotic balance in fresh water.
Keywords: C-RFa; PrRP; Prolactin; Pituitary; mRNA; Gills; Chloride cells;

Structure and functions of the novel hypothalamic RFamide neuropeptides R-RFa and 26RFa in vertebrates by Nicolas Chartrel; Federica Bruzzone; Jérôme Leprince; Hélène Tollemer; Youssef Anouar; Jean-Claude Do-Régo; Isabelle Ségalas-Milazzo; Laure Guilhaudis; Pascal Cosette; Thierry Jouenne; Guy Simonnet; Mauro Vallarino; Jean-Claude Beauvillain; Jean Costentin; Hubert Vaudry (1110-1120).
A number of RFamide peptides have been characterized in invertebrate species and these peptides have been found to exert a broad spectrum of biological activities. In contrast, in vertebrates, our knowledge on RFamide peptides is far more limited and only a few members of the RFamide peptide family have been identified in various vertebrate classes during the last years. The present review focuses on two novel RFamide peptides, Rana RFamide (R-RFa) and 26RFa, that have been recently isolated from the amphibian brain. R-RFa shares the C-terminal LPLRFamide motif with other RFamide peptides previously identified in mammals, birds and fish. The distribution of R-RFa in the frog brain exhibits strong similarities with those of other LPLRFamide peptides, notably in the periventricular region of the hypothalamus. There is also evidence that the physiological functions of R-RFa and other LPLRFamide peptides have been conserved from fish to mammals; in particular, all these peptides appear to be involved in the control of pituitary hormone secretion. 26RFa does not exhibit any significant structural identity with other RFamide peptides and this peptide is the only member of the family that possesses an FRFamide motif at its C-terminus. The strong conservation of the primary structure of 26RFa from amphibians to mammals suggests that this RFamide peptide is involved in important biological functions in vertebrates. As for several other RFamide peptides, 26RFa-containing neurons are present in the hypothalamus, notably in two nuclei involved in the control of feeding behavior. Indeed, 26RFa is a potent stimulator of appetite in mammals. Concurrently, recent data suggest that 26RFa exerts various neuroendocrine regulatory activities at the pituitary and adrenal level.
Keywords: RFamide peptides; Neuropeptides; Neuroendocrine functions; Evolution;

Probing undiscovered neuropeptides that play important roles in the regulation of pituitary function in vertebrates is essential for the progress of neuroendocrinology. Recently, we identified a novel hypothalamic neuropeptide with a C-terminal LPLRF-amide sequence in the quail brain. This avian neuropeptide was shown to be located in the hypothalamo–hypophysial system and to decrease gonadotropin release from cultured anterior pituitary. We, therefore, designated this novel neuropeptide as gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone (GnIH). We further identified novel hypothalamic neuropeptides closely related to GnIH in the brains of other vertebrates, such as mammals, amphibians, and fish. The identified neuropeptides possessed a LPXRF-amide (X = L or Q) motif at their C-termini. These LPXRF-amide peptides also were localized in the hypothalamus and other brainstem areas and regulated pituitary hormone release. Subsequently, cDNAs that encode LPXRF-amide peptides were characterized in vertebrate brains. In this review, we summarize the identification, localization, and hypophysiotropic activity of these newly identified hypothalamic LPXRF-amide peptides in vertebrates.
Keywords: RF-amide peptides; LPXRF-amide peptides; Gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone (GnIH); Frog growth hormone-releasing peptide (fGRP); Hypothalamus; Pituitary; Hypophysiotropic activity;

Drosophila melanogaster FMRFamide-related peptides (FaRPs) include SDNFMRFamide, PDNFMRFamide, and TDVDHVFLRFamide (dromyosuppressin, DMS); each peptide contains a C-terminal FMRFamide but a different N-terminal extension. FaRPs and serotonin (5-HT) each affect the frequency of D. melanogaster heart contractions in vivo. We examined the cellular expression of FaRPs and 5-HT, and the activities of FMRFamide, SDNFMRFamide, PDNFMRFamide, or DMS and 5-HT on heart rate. FaRPs and 5-HT were not co-localized; FaRP-and 5-HT-immunoreactive fibers extended from different brain cells and innervated the anterior D. melanogaster dorsal vessel. However, no neuron expressed both a FaRP and 5-HT. The effect of FMRFamide and 5-HT was not different from the effect of 5-HT alone on heart rate. The effect of PDNFMRFamide and 5-HT showed an additive effect on heart rate. SDNFMRFamide and 5-HT or DMS and 5-HT resulted in non-additive effects on heart rate. Our data provide evidence for the complexity of FaRP and 5-HT interactions to regulate frequency of heart contractions in vivo. Our results also confirm the biological importance of FaRP N-terminal amino acid extensions.
Keywords: Biogenic amine; Cardiovascular; FaRP; Myosuppressin; Neuropeptide;

FMRFamide and related peptides typically exert their action through G-protein coupled receptors. However, two ionotropic receptors for these peptides have recently been identified. They are both members of the epithelial amiloride-sensitive Na+ channel and degenerin (ENaC/DEG) family of ion channels. The invertebrate FMRFamide-gated Na+ channel (FaNaC) is a neuronal Na+-selective channel which is directly gated by micromolar concentrations of FMRFamide and related tetrapeptides. Its response is fast and partially desensitizing, and FaNaC has been proposed to participate in peptidergic neurotransmission. On the other hand, mammalian acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs) are not gated but are directly modulated by FMRFamide and related mammalian peptides like NPFF and NPSF. ASICs are activated by external protons and are therefore extracellular pH sensors. They are expressed both in the central and peripheral nervous system and appear to be involved in many physiological and pathophysiological processes such as hippocampal long-term potentiation and defects in learning and memory, acquired fear-related behavior, retinal function, brain ischemia, pain sensation in ischemia and inflammation, taste perception, hearing functions, and mechanoperception. The potentiation of ASIC activity by endogenous RFamide neuropeptides probably participates in the response to noxious acidosis in sensory and central neurons. Available data also raises the possibility of the existence of still unknown FMRFamide related endogenous peptides acting as direct agonists for ASICs.
Keywords: Sodium channel; ASIC channel; Peptides;

The ever-growing RFamide neuropeptide superfamily has members in all animal phyla. Their effects in molluscs, on both smooth and cardiac muscle as well as on neurons, has been studied in detail. These neuropeptides exert a variety of functions: excitatory, inhibitory or even biphasic. Firstly, the literature on the excitatory effect of the RFamide neuropeptides on molluscan muscle and neurons has been reviewed, with greater emphasis and examples from the gastropods Buccinum undatum and Busycon canaliculatum. The peptides seem to be potent activators of contraction, sometimes generating slow tonic force and other times twitch activity. Secondly, the literature on the inhibitory effect of the superfamily has been reviewed. These peptides can exert an inhibitory effect, hyperpolarizing the cells rather than depolarizing them. Thirdly, the neuropeptides may play a variety of other roles, such as contributing to the regulation or maturation process of the animals. There have been cases recorded of RFamide neuropeptides acting as potent venoms in members of the Conus sp. The pathway of action of these multiple roles, their interaction with the parent neurotransmitters acetylcholine and serotonin, as well as the calcium dependency of the RFamide neuropeptides has been discussed, again with special reference to the above mentioned gastropods. A better understanding of the mode of action, the effects, and the importance of the RFamide neuropeptides on molluscan physiology and pharmacology has been attempted by reviewing the existing literature, recognizing the importance of the RFamide neuropeptide actions on molluscs.
Keywords: Excitatory; Inhibitory; Molluscs; Neuropeptides; RFamide superfamily;