The occurrence of classical neurotransmitter molecules and numerous peptidic messenger molecules in nematode nervous systems indicate that although structurally simple, nematode nervous systems are chemically complex. Thus far, studies on one nematode neuropeptide family, namely the FMRFamide-related peptides (FaRPs), have revealed an unexpected variety of neuropeptide structures in both free-living and parasitic species. To date 23 nematode FaRPs have been structurally characterized including 12 from Ascaris suum, 8 from Caenorhabditis elegans, 5 from Panagrellus redivivus and 1 from Haemonchus contortus. Ten FaRP-encoding genes have been identified in Caenorhabditis elegans. However, the full complement of nematode neuronal messengers has yet to be described and unidentified nematode FaRPs await detection. Preliminary characterization of the actions of nematode neuropeptides on the somatic musculature and neurones of A. suum has revealed that these peptidic messengers have potent and complex effects. Identified complexities include the biphasic effects of KNEFIRFamide/KHEYLRFamide (AF1/2; relaxation of tone followed by oscillatory contractile activity) and KPNFIRFamide (PF4; rapid relaxation of tone followed by an increase in tone), the diverse actions of KSAYMRFamide (AF8 or PF3; relaxes dorsal muscles and contracts ventral muscles) and the apparent coupling of the relaxatory effects of SDPNFLRFamide/SADPNFLRFamide (PF1/PF2) to nitric oxide release. Indeed, all of the nematode FaRPs which have been tested on somatic muscle strips of A. suum have actions which are clearly physiologically distinguishable. Although we are a very long way from understanding how the actions of these peptides are co-ordinated, not only with those of each other but also with those of the classical transmitter molecules, to control nematode behaviour, their abundance coupled with their diversity of structure and function indicates a hitherto unidentified sophistication to nematode neuromuscular intergration.
|Number of pages||17|
|Publication status||Published - 1996|