SIFamide peptides modulate cardiac activity differently in two species of Cancer crab
The SIFamides are a broadly conserved arthropod peptide family characterized by the C-terminal motif –SIFamide. In decapod crustaceans, two isoforms of SIFamide are known, GYRKPPFNGSIFamide (Gly1-SIFamide), which is nearly ubiquitously conserved in the order, and VYRKPPFNGSIFamide (Val1-SIFamide), known only from members of the astacidean genus Homarus. While much work has focused on the identification of SIFamide isoforms in decapods, there are few direct demonstrations of physiological function for members of the peptide family in this taxon. Here, we assessed the effects of Gly1- and Val1-SIFamide on the cardiac neuromuscular system of two closely related species of Cancer crab, Cancer borealis and Cancer irroratus. In each species, both peptides were cardioactive, with identical, dose-dependent effects elicited by both isoforms in a given species. Threshold concentrations for bioactivity are in the range typically associated with hormonal delivery, i.e., 10−9 to 10−8 M. Interestingly, and quite surprisingly, while the predicted effects of SIFamide on cardiac output are similar in both C. borealis and C. irroratus, frequency effects predominate in C. borealis, while amplitude effects predominate in C. irroratus. These findings suggest that, while SIFamide is likely to increase cardiac output in both crabs, the mechanism through which this is achieved is different in the two species. Immunohistochemical/mass spectrometric data suggest that SIFamide is delivered to the heart hormonally rather than locally, with the source of hormonal release being midgut epithelial endocrine cells in both Cancer species. If so, midgut-derived SIFamide may function as a regulator of cardiac output during the process of digestion.