Quan, F.B., Dubessy, C., Galant, S., Kenigfest, N.B., Djenoune, L., Leprince, J., Wyart, C., Lihrmann, I., Tostivint, H. (2015) Comparative Distribution and In Vitro Activities of the Urotensin II-Related Peptides URP1 and URP2 in Zebrafish: Evidence for Their Colocalization in Spinal Cerebrospinal Fluid-Contacting Neurons. PLoS One. 10:e0119290.
Urotensin II (UII) is an evolutionarily conserved neuropeptide initially isolated from teleost fish on the basis of its smooth muscle-contracting activity. Subsequent studies have demonstrated the occurrence of several UII-related peptides (URPs), such that the UII family is now known to include four paralogue genes called UII, URP, URP1 and URP2. These genes probably arose through the two rounds of whole genome duplication that occurred during early vertebrate evolution. URP has been identified both in tetrapods and teleosts. In contrast, URP1 and URP2 have only been observed in ray-finned and cartilaginous fishes, suggesting that both genes were lost in the tetrapod lineage. In the present study, the distribution of urp1 mRNA compared to urp2 mRNA is reported in the central nervous system of zebrafish. In the spinal cord, urp1 and urp2 mRNAs were mainly colocalized in the same cells. These cells were also shown to be GABAergic and express the gene encoding the polycystic kidney disease 2-like 1 (pkd2l1) channel, indicating that they likely correspond to cerebrospinal fluid-contacting neurons. In the hindbrain, urp1-expressing cells were found in the intermediate reticular formation and the glossopharyngeal-vagal motor nerve nuclei. We also showed that synthetic URP1 and URP2 were able to induce intracellular calcium mobilization in human UII receptor (hUT)-transfected CHO cells with similar potencies (pEC50=7.99 and 7.52, respectively) albeit at slightly lower potencies than human UII and mammalian URP (pEC50=9.44 and 8.61, respectively). The functional redundancy of URP1 and URP2 as well as the colocalization of their mRNAs in the spinal cord suggest the robustness of this peptidic system and its physiological importance in zebrafish.