Mechanisms underlying variable responses to isoforms of the neuropeptide C-type allatostatin (AST-C) in the cardiac neuromuscular system of the American lobster, Homarus americanus
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Central Pattern Generators (CPGs) are neural networks that produce steady, rhythmic patterned outputs that activate particular muscles and consequently create recurrent rhythmic movements. The cardiac ganglion (CG) of the American lobster (Homarus americanus) is a useful model system for the study of CPGs. Neuropeptides modulate cardiac contractions driven by the CG in H. americanus and accordingly elicit a range of effects. Post-translational modifications such as amidation can impact function of a peptide neuromodulator. C-type allatostatins (AST-Cs) are a group of neuropeptides that modulate the cardiac neuromuscular system of H. americanus. The objective of this study was to determine what structural aspects of the peptides were responsible for the similarity in responses elicited by AST-C I and AST-C III and the difference in responses evoked by AST-C II in comparison. AST-C I and AST-C III are not C-terminally amidated, whereas AST-C II is C-terminally amidated. We first hypothesized that amidated AST-C peptides would evoke similar responses to one another in contraction amplitude and frequency. Our second hypothesis was that exchanging the amino acids alanine and tyrosine at a specific location in AST-C II and AST-C III would affect the conformation of the peptide, and consequently impact peptide binding and elicit different effects. In contrast to our predictions, we did not see similar responses evoked by all amidated or all non-amidated peptides among lobsters. In support of our second hypothesis, there was a significant difference in percent change in contraction amplitude elicited among AST-C II Y, AST-C II and AST-C III.