Prolactin-releasing peptide2 (PrRP2) belongs to the RFamide peptide group and is a paralog of prolactin-releasing peptide (PrRP). Recent studies demonstrated that PrRP2, but not PrRP, regulates prolactin release in teleosts. The evolutionary origin of PrRP and PrRP2 dates back to at least early vertebrates because homologs of PrRP/PrRP2 were identified in lampreys, one of the earliest branch of vertebrates class Agnatha. However, PrRP/PrRP2 remains to be identified in hagfish, another representative species of class Agnatha. Here, we examined the distribution of PrRP2 in the brain and pituitary of the inshore hagfish Eptatretus burgeri to obtain further understanding of the neuroendocrine system of PrRP2. PrRP2-immunoreactive (ir) cell bodies were detected in the infundibular nucleus of hypothalamus (HYinf). PrRP2-ir fibers were restricted around PrRP2-ir cell bodies and were not detected in the dorsal wall of the neurohypophysis compared to the abundant PrRP2-ir fiber distribution in the brain and innervation to the pituitary in other vertebrates. To examine possible reciprocal connections of PrRP2 and other neuropeptides, we further conducted dual-label immunohistochemistry of PrRP2 and the PQRFamide (PQRFa) peptide or corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). Reciprocal connections are suggested between PrRP2 and PQRFa neurons as well as between PrRP2 and CRH neurons. The present study demonstrates, for the first time, that PrRP2 is expressed in the brain of inshore hagfish. The restricted distribution of PrRP2-ir fibers in the HYinf suggests that PrRP2 does not directly regulate the pituitary gland, but regulates the function of the HYinf where PQRFa and CRH are expressed.
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