We recently purified a peptide with structural features similar to vertebrate gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) from the brain of Octopus vulgaris, cloned a cDNA encoding the precursor protein, and named it oct-GnRH. In the current study, we investigated the expression and distribution of oct-GnRH throughout the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral organs of Octopus by in situ hybridization on the basis of the cDNA sequence and by immunohistochemistry using a specific antiserum against oct-GnRH. Oct-GnRH mRNA-expressing cell bodies were located in 10 of 19 lobes in the supraesophageal and subesophageal parts of the CNS. Several oct-GnRH-like immunoreactive fibers were seen in all the neuropils of the CNS lobes. The sites of oct-GnRH mRNA expression and the mature peptide distribution were consistent with each other as judged by in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry. In addition, many immunoreactive fibers were distributed in peripheral organs such as the heart, the oviduct, and the oviducal gland. Modulatory effects of oct-GnRH on the contractions of the heart and the oviduct were demonstrated. The results suggested that, in the context of reproduction, oct-GnRH is a key peptide in the subpedunculate lobe and/or posterior olfactory lobe-optic gland-gonadal axis, an octopus analogue of the hypothalamo-hypophysial-gonadal axis. It may also act as a modulatory factor in controlling higher brain functions such as feeding, memory, movement, maturation, and autonomic functions.
- Reproductive organs
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