Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is a key regulator of reproductive maturation in humans and other vertebrates. Homologs of GnRH and its cognate receptor have been identified in invertebrates–for example, the adipokinetic hormone (AKH) and corazonin (CRZ) neuropeptide pathways in arthropods. However, the precise evolutionary relationships and origins of these signalling systems remain unknown. Here we have addressed this issue with the first identification of both GnRH-type and CRZ-type signalling systems in a deuterostome–the echinoderm (starfish) Asterias rubens. We have identified a GnRH-like neuropeptide (pQIHYKNPGWGPG-NH2) that specifically activates an A. rubens GnRH-type receptor and a novel neuropeptide (HNTFTMGGQNRWKAG-NH2) that specifically activates an A. rubens CRZ-type receptor. With the discovery of these ligand-receptor pairs, we demonstrate that the vertebrate/deuterostomian GnRH-type and the protostomian AKH systems are orthologous and the origin of a paralogous CRZ-type signalling system can be traced to the common ancestor of the Bilateria (Urbilateria).
Tian, S., Zandawala, M., Beets, I., Baytemur, E., Slade, S. E., Scrivens, J., & Elphick, M. R. (2016). Urbilaterian origin of paralogous GnRH and corazonin neuropeptide signalling pathways. Scientific Reports, -. [28788 (2016)]. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep28788