AMGSEFLamide, a member of a broadly conserved peptide family, modulates multiple neural networks in Homarus americanus
Recent genomic/transcriptomic studies have identified a novel peptide family whose members share the carboxyl terminal sequence –GSEFLamide. However, the presence/identity of the predicted isoforms of this peptide group have yet to be confirmed biochemically, and no physiological function has yet been ascribed to any member of this peptide family. To determine the extent to which GSEFLamides are conserved within the Arthropoda, we searched publicly accessible databases for genomic/transcriptomic evidence of their presence. GSEFLamides appear to be highly conserved within the Arthropoda, with the possible exception of the Insecta, in which sequence evidence was limited to the more basal orders. One crustacean in which GSEFLamides have been predicted using transcriptomics is the lobster, Homarus americanus. Expression of the previously published transcriptome-derived sequences was confirmed by reverse transcription (RT)-PCR of brain and eyestalk ganglia cDNAs; mass spectral analyses confirmed the presence of all six of the predicted GSEFLamide isoforms – IGSEFLamide, MGSEFLamide, AMGSEFLamide, VMGSEFLamide, ALGSEFLamide and AVGSEFLamide – in H. americanus brain extracts. AMGSEFLamide, of which there are multiple copies in the cloned transcripts, was the most abundant isoform detected in the brain. Because the GSEFLamides are present in the lobster nervous system, we hypothesized that they might function as neuromodulators, as is common for neuropeptides. We thus asked whether AMGSEFLamide modulates the rhythmic outputs of the cardiac ganglion and the stomatogastric ganglion. Physiological recordings showed that AMGSEFLamide potently modulates the motor patterns produced by both ganglia, suggesting that the GSEFLamides may serve as important and conserved modulators of rhythmic motor activity in arthropods.