Several neuropeptides possessing the RFamide motif at their C-termini (designated RFamide peptides) have been characterized in the hypothalamus of a variety of vertebrates. Since the discovery of the 26-amino acid RFamide peptide (termed 26RFa) from the frog brain, 26RFa has been shown to exert orexigenic activity in mammals and to be a ligand of the previously identified orphan G protein-coupled receptor GPR103. Recently, we have identified 26RFa in the avian brain by molecular cloning of the cDNA encoding the 26RFa precursor and mass spectrometry analysis of the mature peptide. 26RFa-producing neurons are exclusively located in the hypothalamus whereas GPR103 is widely distributed in the avian brain. Furthermore, avian 26RFa stimulates feeding behavior in broiler chicks. This review summarizes the advances in the identification, localization, and functions of 26RFa and its cognate receptor GPR103 in vertebrates and highlights recent progress made in birds.
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