TS Digest Issue | October 2023 | Designer Peptoids Pop Viral Membranes

Neuropeptides, small proteins launched by the nervous system, regulate how a lot meals animals eat. To learn the way lengthy these molecules have been enjoying this position, Vladimiros Thoma, an assistant professor at Tohoku College, turned his consideration to jellyfish. “Jellyfish and likewise different animals referred to as comb jellies are studied as candidates for the origins of neurons,” Thoma defined, making them perfect models for investigating that query.  

Utilizing the jellyfish Cladonema pacificum, Thoma and his colleagues found a peptide that controls feeding each in jellyfish and fruit flies, animals that shared a standard ancestor tens of millions of years in the past. Their findings recommend deep evolutionary roots for the position of neuropeptides in appetite regulation.1 

To determine the molecules regulating Cladonema’s urge for food, the workforce starved jellyfish for about 50 hours and in contrast the gene expression profiles of starved and just lately fed jellyfish. They discovered that feeding modified the expression of a number of genes, together with these encoding neuropeptides. After screening the power of those molecules to regulate meals consumption, they discovered 5 feeding suppressors, amongst which was the peptide GLWamide.

     The image shows the base of a jellyfish’s tentacle and the animal’s eyelet. The neurons expressing the peptide of interest are shown in green, and the cell nuclei are labeled in magenta. The jellyfish is against a black background. 

Researchers labeled the peptide GLWamide (inexperienced) and cell nuclei (magenta) and located that GLWamide is expressed in neurons within the tentacle and in these surrounding the jellyfish eyelet (black circle).


“These Wamide peptides had been initially found in bugs,” mentioned Meet Zandawala, a neuropeptide researcher on the College of Nevada, Reno, who was not concerned within the research. “It’s fairly fascinating to search out these peptides in such [simple] animals.” 

The workforce additionally confirmed that GLWamide is expressed in neurons in jellyfish tentacles, and that it inhibited the tentacle contraction motion to suppress feeding. 

Subsequent, the researchers examined whether or not GLWamide labored just like myoinhibitory peptide (MIP), a recognized urge for food regulator in fruit flies. They bathed jellyfish with MIP and generated transgenic flies that expressed GLWamide however lacked MIP. They discovered that MIP diminished the jellyfish’s shrimp consumption, whereas GLWamide decreased the variety of instances flies caught out their proboscises to ingest a drop of sugary water. 

“This sign is evolutionarily conserved. It is usually within the flies, and it appears to work the identical manner,” Thoma defined. “It’s form of hanging that over tens of millions of years, you continue to have a really comparable system.” 

Zandawala believes that an essential subsequent step is to determine the goal of the jellyfish peptide. Scientists could possibly examine this and different questions as they develop instruments to check this organism, Thoma mentioned. “It has a brilliant future forward.”


  1. Thoma V, et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2023;120(15):e2221493120.

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