eLife Paper


Ulrich Technau and Alison Cole are co-authors on a new eLife paper

Neuropeptides are ancient signaling molecules in animals but only few peptide receptors are known outside bilaterians. Cnidarians possess a large number of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) – the most common receptors of bilaterian neuropeptides – but most of these remain orphan with no known ligands. We searched for neuropeptides in the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis and created a library of 64 peptides derived from 33 precursors. In a large-scale pharmacological screen with these peptides and 161 N. vectensis GPCRs, we identified 31 receptors specifically activated by 1 to 3 of 14 peptides. Mapping GPCR and neuropeptide expression to single-cell sequencing data revealed how cnidarian tissues are extensively connected by multilayer peptidergic networks. Phylogenetic analysis identified no direct orthology to bilaterian peptidergic systems and supports the independent expansion of neuropeptide signaling in cnidarians from a few ancestral peptide-receptor pairs.

Link to the paper, click HERE