Submitted to: Handbook of Biologically Active Peptides
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: November 12, 2011
Publication Date: June 1, 2013
Citation: Masler, E.P. 2013. Free-living nematode peptides. In: Kastin, A., editor. Handbook of Biologically Active Peptides. 2nd edition. New York, NY: Elsevier/Academic Press. p. 247-254. Technical Abstract: All nematodes employ a wide array of peptide messengers to control nearly all aspects of the life cycle, including hatching, locomotion, feeding, defense, mating, reproduction, and other behavioral and metabolic events. There are molecular and biological similarities, as well as significant differences among nematode species and among nematodes exhibiting differing life histories, such as free-living and parasitic types. Similarities allow application of research results across the phylum, which facilitates behavioral, biochemical and physiological discovery. Sequencing of the first complete animal genome in Caenorhabditis elegans, a free-living nematode, has led to great progress in understanding the molecular control of biological processes in all nematodes, and other animals as well. A fundamental result has been the continuing revelation of the roles, complexity and diversity of biologically-active peptides in nematodes. This genetic approach complements and synergizes with previous and ongoing efforts in biochemistry, pharmacology and physiology, revealing that nematodes possess peptide families that are exceedingly complex. This results from large numbers of genes encoding related amino acid sequences, as in the case of the FMRFamide-like peptides, intricate variations of molecular architectures, as seen among members of the insulin-like peptides family, and the broad variety of peptides comprising neuropeptide-like proteins not in the FMRFamide or insulin families. These peptide families are briefly described, along with their established and proposed functions, including receptor information.