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The PISCF-allatostatins (Manduca sexta- or C-type allatostatins) are a family of pentadecapeptides characterized by a pyroglutamine blocked N-terminus, an unamidated-PISCF C-terminus, and a disulfide bridge between two internal Cys residues. Several isoforms of PISCF-AST are known, all from holometabolous insects. Using a combination of transcriptomics and mass spectrometry, we have identified the first PISCF-type peptides from a non-insect species. In silico analysis of crustacean ESTs identified several Litopenaeus vannamei (infraorder Penaeidea) transcripts encoding putative PISCF-AST precursors. Translation of these ESTs, with subsequent prediction of their putative post-translational processing, revealed the existence of as many as three PISCF-type peptides, including pQIRYHQCYFNPISCF (disulfide bridging between Cys7 and Cys14). Although none of the predicted isoforms was detected by mass spectrometry in L. vannamei, MALDI-FTMS mass profiling identified an m/z signal corresponding to pQIRYHQCYFNPISCF (disulfide bridge present) in neural tissue from 28 other decapods, which included members of six infraorders (Stenopodidea, Astacidea, Thalassinidea, Achelata, Anomura and Brachyura). Further characterization of the peptide using SORI-CID and chemical derivatization/enzymatic digestion supported the theorized structure. In both the crab Cancer borealis and the lobster Homarus americanus, MALDI-based tissue surveys suggest that pQIRYHQCYFNPISCF is broadly distributed in the nervous system; it was also detected in the posterior midgut caecum. Collectively, our data show that members of the PISCF-AST family are not restricted to the holometabolous insects, but instead may be broadly conserved within the Pancrustacea. Moreover, our data suggest that one highly conserved PISCF-type peptide, pQIRYHQCYFN-PISCF, is present in decapod crustaceans, functioning as a brain-gut paracrine/hormone. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.