FMRFamide-like peptides in root knot nematodes and their potential role in nematode physiology

M.J.G. Johnston, Paul McVeigh, Steven McMaster, Colin Fleming, Aaron Maule

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


FMRFamide-like peptides (FLPs) are a diverse group of neuropeptides that are expressed abundantly in nematodes. They exert potent physiological effects on locomotory, feeding and reproductive musculature and also act as neuromodulators. However, little is known about the specific expression patterns and functions of individual peptides. The current study employed rapid amplification of cDNA ends-polymerase chain reaction (RACE-PCR) to characterize flp genes from infective juveniles of the root knot nematodes, Meloidogyne incognita and Meloidogyne minor. The peptides identified from these transcripts are sequelogs of FLPs from the free-living nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans; the genes have therefore been designated as Mi-flp-1, Mi-flp-7, Mi-flp-12, Mm-flp-12 and Mi-flp-14. Mi-flp-1 encodes five FLPs with the common C-terminal moiety, NFLRFamide. Mi-flp-7 encodes two copies of APLDRSALVRFamide and APLDRAAMVRFamide and one copy of APFDRSSMVRFamide. Mi-flp-12 and Mm-flp-12 encode the novel peptide KNNKFEFIRFamide (a longer version of RNKFEFIRFamide found in C. elegans). Mi-flp-14 encodes a single copy of KHEYLRFamide (commonly known as AF2 and regarded as the most abundant nematode FLP), and a single copy of the novel peptide KHEFVRFamide. These FLPs share a high degree of conservation between Meloidogyne species and nematodes from other clades, including those of humans and animals, perhaps suggesting a common neurophysiological role which may be exploited by novel drugs. FLP immunoreactivity was observed for the first time in Meloidogyne, in the circumpharyngeal nerve ring, pharyngeal nerves and ventral nerve cord. Additionally, in situ hybridization revealed Mi-flp-12 expression in an RIR-like neuron and Mi-flp-14 expression in SMB-like neurons, respectively. These localizations imply physiological roles for FLP-12 and FLP-14 peptides, including locomotion and sensory perception.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-265
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Helminthology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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