Discovery of multiple neuropeptide families in the phylum Platyhelminthes

Paul McVeigh, G.R. Mair, Louise Atkinson, P. Ladurner, M. Zamanian, E. Novozhilova, Nicola Marks, T.A. Day, Aaron Maule

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)


Available evidence shows that short amidated neuropeptides are widespread and have important functions within the nervous systems of all flatworms (phylum Platyhelminthes) examined, and could therefore represent a starting point for new lead drug compounds with which to combat parasitic helminth infections. However, only a handful of these peptides have been characterised, the rigorous exploration of the flatworm peptide signalling repertoire having been hindered by the dearth of flatworm genomic data. Through searches of both expressed sequence tags and genomic resources using the basic local alignment search tool (BLAST), we describe 96 neuropeptides on 60 precursors from 10 flatworm species. Most of these (51 predicted peptides on 14 precursors) are novel and are apparently restricted to flatworms; the remainder comprise nine recognised peptide families including FMRFamide-like (FLPs), neuropeptide F (NPF)-like, myomodulin-like, buccalin-like and neuropeptide FF (NPFF)-like peptides; notably, the latter have only previously been reported in vertebrates. Selected peptides were localised immunocytochemically to the Schistosoma mansoni nervous system. We also describe several novel flatworm NPFs with structural features characteristic of the vertebrate neuropeptide Y (NPY) superfamily, previously unreported characteristics which support the common ancestry of flatworm NPFs with the NPY-superfamily. Our dataset provides a springboard for investigation of the functional biology and therapeutic potential of neuropeptides in flatworms, simultaneously launching flatworm neurobiology into the post-genomic era. (C) 2009 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1243-1252
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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