Worm Breeder's Gazette 15(1): 43 (October 1, 1997)

These abstracts should not be cited in bibliographies. Material contained herein should be treated as personal communication and should be cited as such only with the consent of the author.

Putative buccalin-like and myomodulin-like neuropeptides in C. elegans

Arif Nathoo1, Anne Hart2

1 Harvard University
2 MGH Cancer Center, Charlestown, MA and Department of Pathology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

        Neuropeptides form the largest class of neuroactive substances,
yet as a group their roles in nervous system function and development
are still poorly understood.  Only the FMRFamides and related
neuropeptides (FaRPs) have been intensely studied in C. elegans.
However, in Aplysia californica,  over 40 neuropeptides have been
identified and characterized. This suggests that many C. elegans
neuropeptides have not yet been discovered.  With the near completion
of the C. elegans genome sequencing project, reverse genetic techniques
can be applied to identify C. elegans neuropeptide genes.
        We are using FASTA and BLAST to search with previously
identified neuropeptide sequences (stored in GENBANK) against the C.
elegans genome sequence. We expect the products of neuropeptide genes
to fit a prepropeptide model: they should contain a putative signal
peptide region, followed by interrupted multiple repeats of the same or
similar neuropeptide.  Additionally, the predicted neuropeptides should
be flanked by pairs of basic amino acids (KR, RR, KK, RK) or less
frequently by monobasic residues (R or K) which are preferred sites of
endoproteolytic cleavage.  Potential C. elegans neuropeptide gene
compatible with the prepropeptide model are then selected for molecular
and genetic analysis.
        We are currently analyzing C. elegans genes encoding
neuropeptides similar to Aplysia buccalin (C. elegans  C01C4.1) and
myomodulin (C. elegans  T24D8.3, T24D8.4, T24D8.5 and T01B6.4). (See
below.)  Even though the predicted C. elegans neuropeptide sequences
are not strikingly similar to the Aplysia  neuropeptides, there is
strong internal homology between neuropeptides within the same C.
elegans genes.  We are  creating reporter constructs by fusing the
promoter region of potential neuropeptide genes to the GFP gene using
Fire laboratory vectors.  We are injecting these reporter constructs to
assess cellular expression patterns of these myomodulin-like and
buccalin-like genes. We think that it is likely that the GENEFINDER
predicted genes of T24D8.3, .4 and .5 are exons of a single gene.  We
will use RT-PCR to determine mRNA splicing patterns.  Our long range
goals include creating mutations in these genes and determining the
function of these and other putative C. elegans  neuropeptides.

Identity is indicated with a colon, gaps with underlining.

SLSMLRLG____    Aplysia Myomodulin A
:MA:G:::LRPG    T24D8.5
:MAIG:A:MRPG    T24D8.4
:IAIG:A:FRPG    T24D8.3
N:LVG:Y:FRIG    T01B6.4

DPNVDPYSYLPSVG  Aplysia Buccalin
_VNL::N:FRM:F:  C01C4.1
___M:ANAFRM:F:  #

# 3 identical neuropeptides of this sequence are encoded by this gene.