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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Corvallis, Oregon » Horticultural Crops Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #378010

Research Project: Biologically-based Management of Arthropod Pests in Small Fruit and Nursery Crops

Location: Horticultural Crops Research Unit

Title: Identification and functional characterization of the first molluscan neuromedin u receptor in the gray garden slug, deroceras reticulatum

item AHN, SEUNG-JOON - Mississippi State University
item MCDONNELL, RORY - Oregon State University
item Corcoran, Jacob
item Martin, Ruth
item Choi, Man-Yeon

Submitted to: Scientific Reports
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/27/2020
Publication Date: 12/18/2020
Publication URL:
Citation: Ahn, S., McDonnell, R., Corcoran, J., Martin, R.C., Choi, M.Y. 2020. Identification and functional characterization of the first molluscan neuromedin U receptor in the slug, Deroceras reticulatum. Scientific Reports. 10. Article 22308.

Interpretive Summary: Slugs are a worldwide problem in agriculture. In Oregon, the economic impact by pest slugs is estimated to cost the seed industry > $50 million. Currently, the most common slug control methods rely on chemical pesticides that are mixed in pellet bait-based products. This control method is limited in terms of delivery and efficacy, and is not sustainable for environmental and human health. We recently identified a group of small signaling proteins (neuropeptides) important for normal body functioning and their receptors from the gray garden slug. The neuropeptides were characterized based on their ability to bind to specific receptors. This is the first report on this specific group of neuropeptides and receptors in the garden slug. These results not only improve our understanding of the physiological functions of these peptides, but also indicate their potential for the development of novel pesticides against molluscan pests.

Technical Abstract: Neuromedin U (NmU) is a neuropeptide regulating various physiological processes, including muscle contraction, blood pressure, stress responses, and feeding behavior in vertebrates. The homologs of vertebrate NmU peptides have been identified as pyrokinin, CAPA, and ecdysis-triggering hormone, in many insect groups. These peptides belong to NmU/PRXamide family peptides because the core amino acids, PRX (X= any amino acid), are well conserved in their C-terminal ends. In evolutionary lower animal groups such as nematodes, the same NmU/PRXamide have also been identified. Here we report the first molluscan NmU/RXamide peptide and receptor from the gray garden slug, Deroceras reticulatum. Three heptapeptides (QPPLPRY, QLLVPRY, and AVPRPRI) firmly bound the receptor to activate hormone signaling, suggesting they are natural ligands for the NmU/PRXamide receptors in the slug. The peptide genes were exclusively highly expressed in the brain, while the receptor gene showed higher expression levels in both brain and foot. In vivo injection of the active peptides triggered significant defensive behavior, slime over-secretion, and weight loss, implying their essential physiological functions.