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In arthropods, a group of peptides possessing a -Y(SO3H)GHM/ LRFamide carboxy-terminal motif have been collectively termed the sulfakinins. Sulfakinin isoforms have been identified from numerous insect species. In contrast, members of this peptide family have thus far been isolated from just two crustaceans, the penaeid shrimp Penaeus monodon and Litopenaeus vannamei. Here, we report the identification of a cDNA encoding prepro-sulfakinin from the American lobster Homarus americanus. Two sulfakinin-like sequences were identified within the open-reading frame of the cDNA. Based on modifications predicted by peptide modeling programs, and on homology to the known isoforms of sulfakinin, particularly those from shrimp, the mature H. americanus sulfakinins were hypothesized to be pEFDEY(SO3H)GHMRFamide (Hoa-SK I) and GGGEY(SO3H)DDY(SO3H)GHLRFamide (Hoa-SK II). Hoa-SK I is identical to one of the previously identified shrimp sulfakinins, while Hoa-SK II is a novel isoform. Exogenous application of either synthetic Hoa-SK I or Hoa-SK II to the isolated lobster heart increased both the frequency and amplitude of spontaneous heart contractions. In preparations in which spontaneous contractions were irregular, both peptides increased the regularity of the heartbeat. Our study provides the first molecular characterization of a sulfakinin-encoding cDNA from a crustacean, as well as the first demonstration of bioactivity for native sulfakinins in this group of arthropods.